Yau Suen Wong, Mike Wong was the oldest son born in 1938 in Guilin, China. His family lived comfortably until the Communist Revolution erupted in 1949. Violence, turmoil and famine was rampant throughout China.
Wong’s mother pushed for him to escape to Hong Kong in hopes of a better life. At the age of 15 he fled China to Hong Kong. He was among the fortunate ones who survived the journey to Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, he worked at many odd jobs. He hoped to finish his education in engineering but he worked instead
to save money. In Hong Kong, he met his future wife Helen. One of their favorite pastimes was seeing American movies featuring Elvis and John Wayne. His dream of coming to America was first inspired by those movies.
He had a friend in America who was working in a Chinese restaurant. On a brief visit to Hong Kong, Mike had lunch with his friend and he talked about going to visit him in America someday. When he was finally approved for a U.S. Visa, Wong was excited to finally visit the country of his dreams. At the same time, he was very nervous to leave his young family behind. But he knew he wanted to find a better life for his family.
In 1972, Mike’s American Journey began and he never looked back. His friend picked him up at CVG airport and drove him straight to the restaurant kitchen. From there he learned the restaurant business starting as a cook. He knew he had to learn English so he volunteered to work for free bartending so he could interact with customers. His managers liked his work ethic and showed him the basics of front house restaurant work. His natural
charisma and determination set the tone for entrepreneurship. Two years later, he was able to get a green card and emigrated his family to America.
Mike knew he wanted to be a business owner. He and Helen chose Northern Kentucky to open the first Chinese
restaurant in 1977. He was determined that Oriental Wok would be a hallmark of hospitality. One meal at a time, he
and his family shared Chinese culture with Northern Kentucky. Four decades later, he is honored to see generations grow up at his restaurant either dining or working. Year after year, diners have awarded Oriental Wok as a favorite.
One of Mike’s proudest moments was becoming a United States citizen in 1978. “When my own country did not give me a chance, America did. I will always be grateful.” He reminds young people to focus on the chance/ Opportunities to Learn. If someone gives you an opportunity to learn something, seize it. It is more important than money.
Mike Wong believes that everyday is an opportunity to learn and improve. He continuously pushes himself and those around him to
I have one friend in America who was a cook in a Chinese restaurant. When I got my U.S. visa, I was very excited to see America, called “Beautiful Country,” in Chinese. My friend drove me from the airport to the kitchen.
When I come to my new country I was ready to learn and grow here. I love my new country. I want to share my culture and add to my new country. I know this country is already great because people welcomed me. My English is not too good but everyone help me. I tried to learn everything I can learn all the time. I never stop learning.
I thank my wife Helen to support my dream of coming to the America. She worked beside me to help me raise the family and build a business.
I dream of opening my own business.
And now my whole family help me carry out my American Dream. My daughters Susanna, Angela, my sons-in-law Guy and TJ. I am so proud of them. And they all back me up.
When my own country did not give me a chance, America did! I will always be thankful.
Thank you. Thank you for this honor. It means so much to me.