Save the Yen Wor!
As many of you know, Yen Wor Village has been a family-owned and operated business since 1989, with Gary & Wendy Wong in the kitchen and behind the bar, with sons Larry and Isaac supporting the business in many roles throughout the years. In addition to being a staple of the West Seattle nightlife scene for three decades, Yen Wor was at the heart of their family and finances. Known for karaoke seven nights a week, and an atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else, Yen Wor Village has been the setting for countless birthday parties, celebrations, raucous happy hours, and innumerable nights that are impossible to forget... even if they’re kind of hard to remember.
As with many businesses, debts that were manageable before Covid quickly spiraled out of control when the lockdown began, and with the elimination of karaoke and bar service for several months of quarantine, the heart and soul of Yen Wor were put on life-support. In late 2020, Gary went in for a routine flu shot and contracted COVID-19. Due to his illness, Gary was put in the ICU. He was in an induced coma, had a tracheotomy, and was on a ventilator for a month. During his stay in the hospital, Gary then had a stroke that caused him to lose 90% of his mobility on his right side, confining him to a wheelchair for what may be the rest of his life. While Gary was in a rehab facility in Shelton, Washington, three hours from his family, Wendy was walking the family dog and took a nasty fall. She hit her head, breaking several vertebrae in her upper back and neck. Her injuries were very severe, and she needed spinal cord surgery as well as fusion and pins in her neck that will remain permanently. She sustained nerve damage that has limited her mobility, impacted her ability to walk, and has caused a loss of fine motor skills in her hands. Both Gary & Wendy will continue to need ongoing in-home care as well as routine doctors visits, medication, and physical & occupational therapy in addition to Wendy and Gary’s ongoing diabetes management.
Despite the tragedies they were facing, sons Larry and Isaac stepped up to keep their family business going; Larry as general manager and Isaac leading the kitchen. Making some sacrifices (such as going from seven down to five days a week) and other adjustments to navigate the chaos of pandemic restrictions, and on the continued strength of take-out and delivery, Yen Wor Village has been able to escape the fate that many of Seattle's staple bars and restaurants suffered. We're still here.
And yet, we're not out of the woods. We still owe back rent. We still need to fix a few things (and let's be honest, some of those things needed fixing before the pandemic--ladies' restroom, amirite?). We want to make some changes that show our fans, friends and patrons just how much we missed them by making Yen Wor Village and the Pagoda Room hands-down the most fun venue in West Seattle. We're busy working on more reasons to visit--more stuff to do, see and hear. We're building on our strengths and want to remind people why they love coming here. And we need your help. We've already started some renovations, brought back pool and darts, revamped our jukebox, and started projects that will give the Yen a refresh we've needed without sacrificing the soul of the place.
With your help, we can make repairs, renovations, update our karaoke system, change the flooring, and, of course, catch up on rent, which is a major factor in our ability to continue operating. We're looking forward to another 11,000 nights of Chinese-food-jello-shot-dive-bar-karaoke-lounge-anything-can-happen-here vibes and we hope you are too.
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