Yen Ching makes downsizing plans

By Lark Lewis

The owners of Yen Ching plan to move forward with downsizing plans.

The restaurant, 810 W. Lincoln Highway, has been serving the DeKalb area since 1986. Marilyn Yin and her husband John have worked together for more than 26 years in the restaurant industry. Yen Ching posted a “Building For Sale” sign in July.

“We want to cut down, take it easy,” said co-owner Marilyn Yin. “It’s about time to retire.”

In 1983, the couple opened up a Yen Ching restaurant in Dubuque, Iowa, and married three years later.

“We both didn’t speak English much, and a lot of times there was crying,” Yin said.

There were struggles at first, but the couple worked through it.

“Six months, no income, scary,” Yin said.

However, business picked up for the DeKalb location. Both restaurants existed simultaneously for several years but as the Yin family expanded, they had a tough decision to make.

“After my second baby, I was too busy. Two kids plus the two restaurants and they’re far away,” Yin said of dealing with a multi-state business. “Finally we said [DeKalb]. It’s easier because it’s easier to go to Chicago to buy a lot of supplies.”

As soon as the building sells, the Yins will move into a smaller location. While they are looking for a new location in DeKalb, the owners are in no rush.

“It could take a year, two years or three years [to sell],” Yin said. “I don’t want to have two restaurants again. We want something very small, like four, five or six tables. When we sell, we’ll probably take a break for a couple months and we’ll probably cut down five to six hours, have a couple days off, take it easy.”

Though there were bumps in the road on Yen Ching’s way to success, one of Yin’s favorite memories of the restaurant was a hectic order of 25 visitors trying to get food, eat and pay their bill in 20 minutes.

“I had 25 people from China who told me they had 20 minutes to finish everything,” Yin said. “They were running to go back to Chicago, they were meeting at NIU for a conference. I said I can do that for you, no problem.”

The order went as scheduled and the customers left happy and well fed, Yin said.