Longtime eatery closes its doors

mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.com. April 18, 2014 

Los Banos residents can no longer get a hand-cut egg roll or Chinese chicken salad from Ming’s restaurant, a town favorite since before 1968.

The eatery closed April 13.

Owner Paul Seto said his decision was based on a letter he received advising of noncompliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The 1990 ruling on providing equal access covers everything from the removal of architectural barriers to the size and width of doors and aisles to parking lot striping.

Seto would not comment further.

A voice message on the restaurant’s phone states the closure is due to repairs needed to conform with the law. Seto also states in the message that he plans to take care of his parents.

Los Banos Fire Chief Chet Guintini said Ming’s restaurant is not the only target of the lawsuit. “There are three other different types of businesses, I believe, that also received the letter,” he said. “What’s happening is the restrooms don’t meet the current ADA requirements.”

Guintini said Ming’s would have to remodel the restroom to be handicapped accessible and fix a few other things listed in the letter, including the parking lot, to be in compliance.

The lawsuit is being filed by individual companies, Guintini said.

Linda Liu of China Garden, which is also a lawsuit target, said she would have liked to receive a warning to fix the problems before being hit with a lawsuit.

“It’s upsetting that people are taking advantage of small business,” Liu said. She said her landlord will be taking care of the issue; whether the problem will be fixed is unknown.

The history of Ming’s

Ming’s restaurant existed before Seto’s parents purchased it in 1968. Seto was 17 years old at the time.

“They saw an ad in the paper for a restaurant that was for sale in Los Banos,” the 65-year-old said.

That location was originally in a lot across the street from the current location at 435 W. Pacheco Blvd.

Seto was in high school when he started working in the restaurant. On Mondays, he would leave school to go to San Francisco to pick up supplies.

Seto quickly learned how to cook from his parents, customers and by tasting food everywhere he went.

“My customers helped me a lot,” he said. “My customer is my taste.”

Once Seto’s parents retired in 1980, he took over the business. “At that time, the people were so sweet,” Seto said. “That’s why I like small towns.”

Seto said although he and his family worked long days and extra long nights, he will miss his customers.

“I never sleep at night time,” he said. “Even at nighttime, I still dream about the work, the responsibility and things.”

Seto said he wants to thank community members for their loyalty and support. “If it wasn’t for them who give me the information,” he said, “I would not be successful today.”

Ming’s restaurant employed 10 people; four were family members.

Seto is considering opening a drive-thru restaurant to keep his family employed and its recipes alive.

Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or mgaytan@losbanosenteprise.com.

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