Bowling Green is filled with many immigrant stories and this one is similar to many I have heard before. The difference to the other stories is the owners I never had the chance to meet nor is the place somewhere I had the chance to eat.
We should always remember the culinary pioneers of Southern Kentucky like the Wan family who owned “The House of Wan.” The owners Henry and Tak Jong Wan came to Bowling Green in 1967 and their road to Bowling Green was interesting. Tak was born in Guangzhou, China and her father served as a General in the Province. Even though her mother passed when she was very young, she had a very good education from her Stepmother. She attended and graduated from Canton Girls Teacher College and later studied at a women’s college in Tokyo. While in Tokyo she met her husband, Wood-Chin Henry Wan. She worked as a housewife in the beginning teaching dance, music and art as well. She also was a Librarian in China.
The Japanese invasion of China in 1948. They fled to Hong Kong and by 1956 they arrived in Los Angeles. She taught at the local Chinese school in Los Angeles. Then in 1967 she and Henry moved to Bowling Green following their oldest son who established Wan’s Medical Clinic in the Morgantown Area.
This is when she and Henry opened “The House of Wan.” Spending her days greeting people at the Medical Clinic and in the evening at the restaurant. Both Henry and Tak became Naturalized Citizens of the United States. “The best was when he’d (Henry) would sing Karaoke.” Mellow Matt’s Music & More‘s Matt Pfefferkorn. Henry Passed away in 1994 at 94 and Tak passed at 99 years of age in 2009 and are buried in Morgantown.
We share this story so we don’t lose memories of the people who helped make our city and food culture great. Also, to remember the roots of those who came to help make our area great! (Photo from Ancestry)