A Business Built on Family Pride
For four generations and 65 years, Kowloon Restaurant has been serving and entertaining residents and visitors of the Greater Boston area. Known to many as an iconic landmark and a destination location for the region, the premiere dining and entertaining complex holds 1,200 seats, is open seven days a week until 2 a.m., and serves up the area’s best Chinese, Cantonese, Szechwan, Thai and Japanese dishes to a vast and diverse customer base.
“This business emulates our family’s personality,” said Bob Wong, one of six Wong siblings who own and operate the family business. Wong says his father, who passed away four years ago and was instrumental in the establishment and success of the restaurant, was an extraordinary man. Each of his five siblings has worked hard to maintain his father’s level of professionalism and pride. “We started the restaurant as a reflection of my father’s incredible personality, and now we hope it is a reflection of ours.”
Kowloon’s is a go-to spot for Boston diners, offering a seemingly endless array of menu items, settings and entertainment. Upon opening the doors to this massive establishment, customers are greeted immediately by an almost marketplace atmosphere. From that point, the experience is as varied as the menu. There’s entertainment that changes nightly: a comedy show, a celebrated band, visits from famous athletes and personalities.
Many are drawn to the Polynesian area, a more intimate, 50-seat space comprised of two rooms: the Volcano Bay Room, complete with a 70-foot volcano mural, and the Tiki Lagoon Room, decked out with a centrally located Tiki god and pool of water. A totally different vibe is found in the restaurant’s lounge, with a state-of-the-art sound system, live DJ and televisions. Others gravitate to the open kitchen concept at the Thai Grill, watching skilled chefs create sushi feasts. For private parties, Kowloon’s opens up a spacious room with banquet seating for up to 500 diners. And a full catering menu allows the Kowloon’s experience to be transported all over Boston.
It wasn’t always the #1 Asian restaurant and entertainment complex in America, however. Bob’s grandparents started the restaurant in 1950 armed with nothing more than 50 seats and an intense desire to please their customers. After a decade of establishing the location, Bob’s parents took over the restaurant, the name was changed and the evolution was in full swing. “We expanded five or six times over the years, and the menu and entertainment options have developed and changed with every addition,” explained Bob. Growing slowly over time was the key to their long-term success in a demanding marketplace, he believes. The other key: satisfied employees.
“Growing up in the restaurant business, I have learned that our real purpose is to make people happy, and in order to do that we have to start with our employees,” said Bob. At any given time, 220 to 250 employees are on the Kowloon’s team, and Bob considers them the restaurant’s most important ingredient. “You can always find ways to make more money, but I’m more concerned with how I am impacting people’s lives. To me, that’s a more important measure of success.”