After last week's closure of the Chicago Cafe, the Eng family took a few days to process the kindness shown to them by the citizens of North Bay and beyond. In an interview with BayToday, the family expressed their gratitude: "We have been very fortunate and well-received within the North Bay community for approximately 80 years. Our experiences have been positive ones that we will never forget and always appreciate."
Ed and Helen Eng, owners of the Chicago Cafe, were so touched by the outpouring of support after announcing their decision to close their restaurant that they agreed to share some of their historical family photos with their loyal patrons.
The photos that the Engs have shared can be found in our gallery above. There are shots of the restaurant in different eras and phases, tracing the Chicago Cafe's history from its establishment in the 1930s through to recent photographs that Ed, a photographer in his own right, took of the Engs' travels. They love to travel and plan on exploring new places in their retirement.
"The best memories are the ones that include returning patrons through the years, from locals to other areas in Ontario, such as Sudbury, Sturgeon Falls, Callander, Powassan, Barrie and Ottawa, to name a few. Some of our loyal Torontonians have ordered take-out from us consistently," relayed the family.
The building at 167 Main St. West that housed the Chicago Cafe is over 100 years old. The business has been in the family for approximately 80 years since original owner Young Sing, Ed's father, took over in the 1930s. Ed relayed that his father had changed his name from Young Sing Ng so that it was "easier for his newfound friends to pronounce."
The restaurant's name had been reverted to the Chicago Cafe (which was its original name) as part of a rebranding in 1995. It was known as the Old Chicago Cafe for a period in between.
Asked what the secret was to their longtime success, the Engs responded, "We've had the great honour of serving our community. We've been proud members of the DIA, and have had the honour to be a part of North Bay's history. Blessed by the loyalty of our community throughout the years, it has been the foundation of our success as a business. We will never forget this support."
The Engs own the building and its heritage and legacy in downtown North Bay are important to them. In correspondence, the Engs wrote, "Regardless of our future projects, we'll strive to preserve this landmark and ensure that it continues to be honoured."
The Engs also wanted to recognize their employees. "We've had the pleasure of working with some amazing people that we consider to be a part of the family. Some of them have been with us for over 40 years, which is an accomplishment that we hold close to our hearts. They have all contributed to our success and legacy."