When Arthur Wong hung up his apron at Canton Restaurant in Burnsville for the last time on Saturday, he closed a chapter of Twin Cities restaurant history written by his family over the past century.
What was supposed to be a summer job for Wong, a former Minneapolis school teacher, led to nearly three decades as a third-generation Chinese American restaurant owner.
Canton Restaurant's dark red paint and arched, pagoda-style entrance has welcomed customers since Wong's father, Harold, bought the place in 1983.
The local landmark, sitting along an unassuming street between Highway 13 and Cliff Road, started as the Cuckoo Clock restaurant in 1970. The Cuckoo Clock, and the subsequent Burnsville Inn & Out, were both fleeting establishments before the family-owned Canton opened in 1975.
Harold Wong bought the Canton for his own family to run in 1983 and Arthur Wong and his wife, Lai Wong, took over in 1995.
"We've been a mom and pop operation the whole time," Arthur Wong said.
While clearing out the building on Monday, Wong said he's ready to leave the 70-hour weeks behind and spend more time gardening, fishing and traveling.
Harold Wong, now in his 90s, remains an avid sportsman himself.
Over the decades, the father-and-son carried forward the family restaurant tradition that began in the 1920s at the Kin Chu Cafe on Hennepin Avenue.
The restaurant, founded by Arthur Wong's grandfather and grandfather's uncle, operated with its flashy, Art Deco exterior until 1961. The duo also ran the adjoining El Morocco Bar.
Over the years, Harold Wong worked at his father's business and other iconic restaurants from the bygone days, including the Nankin Cafe and the Waikiki Room — he settled his own family in Bloomington in the 1950s.
Arthur Wong remembers being only the second Chinese family to move to Bloomington. However, in 1958, the community saw the beginnings of another local Chinese American restaurant legacy, the opening of David Fong's Restaurant.
Harold Wong served as general manager and maître d' at Fong's until the late 1970s. While the Fong family continues running three Chinese restaurants in the Twin Cities, the closing of the Canton Restaurant marks the end of the Wong family's century in the business.
Arthur and Lai Wong's twin sons have other plans and the building will soon house administrative offices for the business next door, Tri-State Bobcat.
However, Arthur Wong said there's plans to keep the building's exterior unchanged — its iconic arch reaching back through the decades to hold a piece of Minnesota history.