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If I were to pick one symbol that defines the iconic nature of China Nite, it would be the Hoi Toi statue or the big smiling Buddha statue that hung proudly on the front of the building, beckoning customers from far and wide to get a bite to eat.
This statue has gone missing. I am able to rest easy knowing that it’s somewhere safe because it was removed from the building long before came tumbling down. I have received some leads on its location, putting it in someone’s backyard in one of several cities. The vagueness of these leads is the reason why I decided to write this post. I want to know where the big guy is now. I want to know that he’s safe.
The best information I received on the whereabouts of the Buddha statue came from the administrator of the China Nite Facebook page. They said that someone purchased it and it’s in a backyard in North Ogden. I’m hoping that this is the case because I’m currently living in this part of the state. I would like to pay the owner a visit, take pictures with the Buddha, and come back to you with a full report.
If the person who owns the Buddha is reading this now, I promise you that your location and name will not be divulged. You can contact me anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-389-2327. I will work within your schedule and meet you wherever you want me to meet you.
I don’t care if it takes multiple posts to shake down the current location of the Buddha. I fear that this majestic monolith is in a storage shed somewhere rather than the place of honor it deserves. I would love for someone to come out of the mist and current me if I wrong. Trust me, this is one of those things about which I would love to be mistaken.
No one can accurately tell the story of China Nite without mentioning the Buddha. I will delve more into its history in subsequent posts. For now, I’m more concerned about its current situation. Out of all the things that made this restaurant great, the Buddha statue seems to be the only thing that still exists. I could easily go on and on about what used to be and why it’s sad that it’s gone. I will do that, but not before talking about what’s still around.
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Based on the research I’ve conducted, ownership of the land on which China Nite once stood traces back to a Washington Terrace address. I will be writing a letter to this address in the hopes of extracting some additional information. I don’t know the relation of the individuals living at this address to the people who owned the China Nite. I assume, since their name is listed in the public record, they are the current holders of the land. I will not be revealing their name in this forum out of respect for their privacy.
Once I have completed the letter I intend to send to them, I will post it here in its entirety. My main goal for this project has always been to outline every possible detail of my investigations so the process can be followed at a later date. I would rather be completely transparent than leave anything out, causing readers to become confused and ultimately disenchanted.
I don’t like the comments I get whenever I tell someone that I’m going to write a letter. They remind me that the internet exists and that I should just send an email. This comment is both unhelpful and fails to take into consideration all the people who have no web presence. Plus, email is a very impersonal means of communication that can easily be ignored. Letters give reaching out a personal touch and require a physical effort to dispose of.
I used to love writing letters before I became consumed with trying to reach out to everyone via email. I have since come to the realization that there’s nothing wrong with writing someone a letter. If you have legitimate reason to get in touch with someone, you should find whatever means you need to make that exchange possible. I feel like the need for the China Nite story to be told is so profound that it constitutes a reason for me to get in touch with them.
In this letter, I will ask their permission to scan and repost their response. I will give them the opportunity to contact me via mail, telephone, or email. I doubt I will get a reply back. I hope I’m mistaken. I have been wanting to know the postscript for China Nite for years. I hope it’s good news and not confirmation that the end of this Ogden icon was as unceremonious as it seemed.
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What was once the China Nite restaurant on 2783 Washington Boulevard in Ogden, Utah is now a vacant plot of dirt with a for sale sign near the curb. I looked at this building that was so full of life and character as I drove by it year after year and time after time. One day, I passed by it again and looked to see that a crew was tearing it down. My heart immediately dropped, especially when I saw one of their signs on its side on the ground. I’m hoping that someone saved it and all the other signage on that building and it’s currently getting the loving preservation it deserves.
China Nite did not get the proper sendoff it deserved. We watched as it served as a beacon in the community for so many years only to see it get old, collapse, and then meet its ultimate fate. I’ve always wondered who demolished the building and what their plans for the land were. Clearly nothing came of these plans because the land still remains vacant. An Ogden icon got demolished so we got the opportunity to look at yet another desolate open lot in downtown. Lucky us!
The biggest travesty associated with the demolition of the China Nite is the fact that so many people walk by that land every day and none of them know what stood there. None of them saw the big Buddha statue on the front with all the arrow holes in its belly. None of them witness the majestic glow of the signage when it was lit up at night. All they see is a patch of dirt. That’s unacceptable.
My efforts to come up with the contact information for the family that owned China Nite have so far proven unsuccessful. I know that Glen Hong, the man who ran the establishment until 1995, died last September. Some of his family members are listed on his obituary. I have yet to find any online profiles for these individuals, so my best bet is to write them letters. I’m hoping that if I’m able to get in touch with one of them, I will have the chance to tell the story of China Nite’s afterlife.
I want to know that the outcome of China Nite’s storied history was more than just a pile of rubble that led to a patch of grass and sand. I want to know that someone was given the chance to preserve everything that made this place so interesting. If anything, I want this family to know that their contribution to the community did not go unnoticed, even though the last years of China Nite were nothing like its glory days. Ever since I saw the demolition of China Nite, I wanted to tell its story. Join me, shall you?