A memorial goes a long way, but it can only go so far. Remembering something is all well and good. If that thing isn’t here, you can remember it all you want. The thing you’re remembering isn’t going to come back. You will feel better for awhile having remembered it. This feeling will subside, making it even more difficult to process your loss than if you had done nothing at all. I’m not advocating for the abolition of memorials in all their forms. What I’m saying is we need to do more to appreciate and preserve what we love while it’s still here.
I’m lucky to have not dealt with a lot of loved ones passing away. Family members have died of old age, but I didn’t have good relationships with a lot of them. Only two losses were substantial. I found ways to overcome those losses because I knew we had shared many great moments and left on good terms. I miss them often. However, for some reason, I don’t miss them so much that I wish they were still here. It would be wonderful if they were. I just remind myself their number was up and anything we could have done in our relationship was accomplished and then some.
I often regret the fact that I didn’t spearhead an effort to save the Cinedome 70 in Riverdale, Utah sooner. I should’ve acted the moment I saw a for sale sign attached to the building. Public interest would’ve been up and all the damage vandals inflicted on the structure could’ve been avoided. I realize that a lot of people think I’m foolish for admiring a building that’s now long gone. I get it. I just love buildings that are loaded with personality, especially buildings that were constructed by passionate people.
Modern architecture is soulless and lifeless. Nothing but a bunch of straight edges and open windows. Corporations rule the day and they prioritize designs that are easy and cheap to replicate. Consumers go for these establishments because they’re everywhere. They pass up the little places, thinking that they should avoid them since the owner wasn’t able to plunk down the money to outfit everything with the newest and the best. Whatever happened to appreciating the little guy? I wish the juggernauts would go out of business tomorrow, allowing for the up and comers to create the jobs and make things enjoyable again.
I’m in awe of the fact that my failed campaign to save the Cinedome 70 in Riverdale, Utah is coming up on its 7th anniversary. While the campaign failed to actually save the theater, it succeeded in making sure that it didn’t go out quietly. I thought the idea of a theater that had been in a community for decades disappearing in the blink of an eye was a travesty. I had to unite the troops to make sure that this didn’t happen. In hindsight, my efforts were startlingly inept in every sense of the word.
If I could go back, I would have started my campaign much earlier. This might not have been feasible though. When the theater closed in 2001, I was a little over 14 years old. I enjoyed the aesthetics of the theater every time I went through Riverdale. At that age, I was more self-centered than I would care to admit. By the time I developed a more selfless mindset, it was too late and the theater was on its way out. I should have organized a campaign to raise the funds to buy the theater. I had a decade to do it. I will never know why I failed in this regard.
From the ashes of this cinematic palace, a car dealership rose to the sky. The owner of this dealership is the Larry H. Miller Corporation. They’re not a mom and pop operation. They operate countless dealerships and movie theaters throughout the state of Utah and beyond and own the Utah Jazz. A community fixture was bulldozed for a replaceable business that could easily close if the economy went south. I stood at the feat of a corporate juggernaut and didn’t blink. My unwavering defiance mattered very little as LHM had the money and legal resources to bury me.
I appreciate the fact that there’s a painting and plaque in the dealership building. It doesn’t say that the theater was there or for how long. Really it’s a piece of art that blends into the background. I fear that the Cinedome has been forgotten and I’m responsible. I will not let that happen. I will make it a point to talk about it a lot more in the future. Perhaps I might be able to get a mention or two of it in local media. As I did during the campaign, I’m not ruling anything out.
I could spent a million years writing how much I love kona coffee, but all that time still wouldn’t get to the bottom of my adoration for this segment of the coffee universe. I used to see kona coffee as something unattainable, practically a mythological item. Those days are long gone; however, I still hold this coffee in high regard and look at it as the pinnacle of the industry. Kanalani Ohana Farm is one of those entities that does kona coffee right. It all comes down to the dedication they show from the moment they hand pick their beans until they show up in the hands of someone like me.
I can’t get enough of coffee that comes from entities that take it seriously. You are able to discern this fact from the moment you open the bag. The smell of well crafted beans is potent enough to knock you on your butt and make you want to get to your grinder like your life depends on it. From the moment you take your first smell of a type of coffee, you can almost taste what will soon be filling up your cup. It’s hard to put this level of anticipation into words.
That’s the kind of feeling I got when I broke into my bag of Kanalani Ohana Farm kona coffee. I fully understand that they offer their product on their website. Anyone can order it and have it shipped to their house within a few days. Despite all these facts staring me in the face, I somehow feel like I’m one of a privileged few. I feel like I got an invitation to a secret location in a spooky envelope. As I pour a cup of coffee, it’s almost like I’m transported into a secret bunker where I’m able to enjoy this brew with some of the best coffee minds.
Speaking about coffee in these terms might seem excessive. I couldn’t disagree more with this assertion. Any time you’re able to try something on which another person spent countless hours working you think of it as an honor. You’re not tasting coffee when you try Kanalani Ohana Farm’s coffee. You’re tasting the work that they put into it and how much they want it to be great for you. That’s not a sensation you will get when you drink coffee from many different brands. Kanalani Ohana Farm is a cut above.
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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?