A much-loved Chinese take away is to close its door after 50 years of serving the people of Leiston… Chinese food.
The Happy House take-away in Upper Street, Leiston, Suffolk, was opened by owners Kang & Deidre Lee in 1976. After a prophecy that Kang found inside a fortune cookie came true.
Kang cracked open the cookie of fortune in 1975 after he’d bought his family a meal to eat as they watched their favourite Saturday evening TV show ‘The Planet of the Apes’. Mr Lee takes up the story. “我们都喜欢《猩球崛起》和中国菜，所以我们过去常常在周六晚上看电视时将两者结合起来…”.
Errr… in English, please, Mr Lee! “Oh Sorry! Of course! We all loved the ‘The Planet of the Apes’ and also Chinese food so we used to combine the two as we watched TV on Saturday evenings. In those days you used to get free fortune cookies with your food, and the prophecy inside mine said ‘A happy take-away makes a happy house’. I knew then and there that we had to open a Chinese takeaway called the Happy House. So we did.”
Corned Beef Palace
And the Lee family was right to do so. The take-away was an instant success with the people of Leiston who in 1976 had never heard of China, let alone Chinese food. “At first, people would come in and ask for egg and chips, or corned beef sandwiches but they soon caught on.” Said a giggling Mrs Lee as she remembered the Happy House’s early days wiping a tear from beneath her spectacles. Continuing to chop onions for the Chicken Chow Mein order that had just come in, she went on… “My happiest memory was when we helped the community with the Coronavirus Eat Out to Help Out scheme. We even gave away free fortune cookies like they used to do in golden days!”
A No 117, please
We joined the Lees as they served their customers for the last time, many of them were regulars, and all of them sad to see the Happy House go. We asked Mr Lee what the future held for his family. “Well, I’m gonna open new shop.” Excuse me? “Yep. Gonna open new shop.” A new shop? Where? “Across the street. No.117.” Directly across the street from Happy House? “Yep.” Well, that’s a surprise! And what are you going to call the new place? “The Spring Dragon.” Okay… Why the Spring Dragon? “Because my wife was born in April. In the Spring.”