Yen Wor Village, an old-school Chinese restaurant and karaoke destination in West Seattle, closed on March 29, bringing a sad ending to a saga that saw the owners hit by financial and health problems.
Married couple Gary and Wendy Wong had owned the restaurant since 1989 but had been struggling in recent years; in 2022 Westside Seattle wrote that it had “slipped into karaoke dive bar status.” The pandemic just made things worse: Gary caught COVID-19 in 2020 and while in the ICU suffered a stroke. Around the same time, Wendy slipped while walking their dog and broke bones in her spine and back. With both owners unable to work, the Wongs’ song, Issac and Larry, stepped in and tried to save the family business, but it was an uphill battle.
In April 2022, Yen Wor’s devotees (dubbed “Yen Worriors”) launched a GoFundMe to help the Wongs. “Yen Wor Village has been the setting for countless birthday parties, celebrations, raucous happy hours, and innumerable nights that are impossible to forget... even if they’re kind of hard to remember,” wrote the organizer.
Though the yearlong campaign to rescue Yen Wor raised $10,000, it ultimately failed, and another Seattle landmark has now been swallowed up.
Vanishing Seattle documented the messages written on the bathroom stalls by heartbroken fans during that final night. “I found love here, and friendship, and fun,” one read. “I will always remember you.”