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Kowloon files a permit for an outdoor eating area


SAUGUS — Kowloon customers could soon be chowing down on lobster dinner in an outdoor tent with a tiki vibe.

Owner Bobby Wong will go before the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday to request a change in the restaurant’s existing licensing to allow food and alcoholic beverages to be served in an 1,800-square-foot outdoor dining area.

If approved, a tent will be erected behind the existing Route 1 chinese food restaurant and adorned with tiki lights and other decorations. The area would fit about 100 seats.

“It would be a trial for this year,” said Wong. “If it goes well, we will either do a tent every year or, if it goes really well, we will see if we can build an outdoor structure. It’s something that would be fun and different for the customers and the employees.”

With so many other restaurants popping up, Wong said he and his family, with whom he owns the business, are trying to find creative ways to keep things different.

He envisions the tiki tent will be used for customers who come in for the restaurant’s well-received twin lobster special.

“Over the summer we could serve twin lobsters in a tent as well as cocktails and drinks,” he said.

The restaurant has an annual lobsterfest during which the cost for twin lobsters is set at $22.95 on weekdays and $27.95 on weekends. The twist, he said, is the lobsters can be served 12 different ways.

Among the options, lobsters can be ordered steamed with ginger and scallions; with spicy tomato sauce; in spicy garlic sauce; Szechuan style; Chinese style, with black bean sauce; General Gao style; Thai, with salt and pepper; in a Shanghai stir fry or just plain boiled.

He said the readiness to try new things started a generations ago when his parents and grandparents ran the restaurant.

The iconic eatery was opened by Wong’s grandparents in 1950 with 50 seats. His parents took it over eight years later and started a series of several expansions.

“Now we have 1,200 seats,” said Wong. “My mother and father had a lot of foresight and great dreams. I don’t think anyone would build a 1,200 seat restaurant today.”

He and his five siblings, who run the business together, have made an effort to continue their vision.

“Being in the family business is like a life sentence,” said Wong. “You can’t get out. It has its challenges, but we’ve all talked about it and even though there’s always issues and not everything goes smoothly, none of us would have it any other way. For our whole lives, (we have) been able to see (each other) every day. As we get older, we realize how fortunate we are.”

If the outdoor seating is allowed, Kowloon will have a total of 1,300 seats for the summer.

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