After more than 30 years of feeding hungry Airdronians, the Silver Star restaurant in Meadowbrook will serve up its last plates of ginger beef, chow mein, and fried rice on Jan. 29.
The restaurant’s manager, Sandy Tu, announced in a shop-local Facebook page on Jan. 13 that the long-serving Chinese restaurant would be closing its doors for good at the end of January.
“We’re all sad to say goodbye to our favourite community of Airdrie for more than 30 years at the end of January,” Tu wrote. “We appreciated all your support and business through the best time of our lives.”
Reached afterward, Tu said the reason for the closure of the family-run restaurant is her parents’ decision to retire. The business is owned by Tu’s parents, Sau Vo and Denh, as well as her aunt and uncle, Phong and Quay.
“My parents have been working all their lives,” Tu said. “Even before we immigrated to Canada, they were working at restaurants or in construction.
“With my parents and my uncle, it’s just time for them to retire. They want to spend more time with their grandkids.”
Tu said her family has run the restaurant since the early 1990s, adding she wasn’t exactly sure when it first opened. While she now lives in Calgary and is only at Silver Star on a part-time basis these days, Tu said she previously worked at the restaurant for more than 15 years.
Another contributor to the decision to close the restaurant, according to Tu, was the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Silver Star’s profit margins.
“Ever since COVID happened, the restaurant’s business has gone down quite a bit,” she said. “COVID pushed [my parents’] retirement a little earlier.”
Airdronians responded in droves to Tu’s Facebook announcement – within a day, more than 900 people had reacted to the post on Facebook, while more than 150 commented.
Tu said reading the community members’ kind responses to the news her restaurant would be closing soon was “overwhelming.”
“Just reading all the comments, it’s so heart-warming,” she said.
“I actually called my aunt and my parents and read the comments to them. I was reading all the comments to them and everyone got really teary and emotional. They’re so thankful.”
The last day of operation at the restaurant – Jan. 29 – will likely be business as usual, but Tu added her aunt told her many regular customers are planning something special on Jan. 22.
“I think they want to all come in and say a final goodbye, so she asked me to come down on that day to help out. If anyone out there wants to come in and say goodbye, that would be a good day to come in,” Tu said.
One Airdrie resident who will miss the restaurant is Ken Urkosky, a Thorburn resident who has called the city home since 2001. Over the last 21 years, Urkosky estimated he’s eaten at or ordered takeout from Silver Star at least 100 times, adding his favourite dishes are their Saté chicken skewers, dumplings, beef and broccoli, and yellow curry chicken.
Urkosky said it’s a shame to see his favourite Chinese takeout place close its doors.
“It’s very consistent – you can count on what you’re ordering being as good the next time as it was the first time,” he said, when popping into the restaurant on Jan. 13. “I guess the lack of buffet for the last two years because of COVID has hurt them a fair bit, because they’ve basically had to rely on takeout.”
Tu said her family will continue to serve Airdronians for the next few weeks, while reminiscing on the relationships they have formed with members of the community.
“Everyone is so nice,” she said. “They come and really want to know how you’re doing. We’re like a big family – we look out for each other and talk about our days, good and bad.
“When I think back to the relationships we built with everyone, hearing the stories about how they’ve come to eat since they were a baby, and now they bring in their own kids to eat there…it gives me goosebumps.”