“Hello! Welcome to Golden Grill Mongolian BBQ!”
These were the most painfully familiar words imprinted into my adolescent mind and still resonate until this day. I was ten years-old when my family moved from Taiwan, in 2000, to Silverdale, Wash. — a small town north of Bremerton. My dad’s sisters were the pioneers of our family trade. I think they started in California, chasing after the American Dream of streets paved with gold and all that. To avoid competition, they chose remote areas to have their businesses. Eventually the three Chou sisters plus another brother (not my dad)decided to settle in Silverdale, and thus Golden Grill was born.
My family moved to the area about ten years later. The restaurant is now 23 years-old, the same age as my older brother. We all took part in this experience growing up in Golden Grill. We ate there, played there, fought there (and saw BIG bar fights), and worked there. The Grill (this is what the kids call the restaurant because it sounds cooler) was a way of life for us.
Whether it’s positive or negative, our childhood at the Grill gave us all something to take away. This unique experience as “restaurant children” resonates with many generations of Asian Americans. It’s not even about restaurants — it’s this experience of being tied closely to our families and growing up in this family-owned business environment that makes it unique. As children, we saw how hard our parents had to work in order for us to fit into American society. Our parents had no choice but to choose a trade that worked for them — whether it was restaurants, convenient stores, salons, or dry cleaners. This was a way of life, not just for my family, but for many Asian Americans.
So as you watch this documentary filmed by me, about my cousins as “Children of Golden Grill”, try to recall how hard all of our parents worked to get this generation where it is today.
In the eyes of outsiders, the “restaurant life” might be something strange, but it’s the struggles, laughs, and ups and downs that make up this unique, collective experience of the American Dream.
Hopefully in the near future, when I’m able to convince the adults to get over their camera-shyness, I’ll make a sequel to this called the “Parents of Golden Grill”, so we get to hear their perspective of chasing an American Dream.