One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is meeting wonderful members of the restaurant community, some of the most hard-working, kind and optimistic people around.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Ken and Kristin Fong, who embody these traits. The Fongs have owned New Hello China in Clinton since 2011. Six months ago, they added a new adventure to their lives when they purchased Star Café in Clearfield.
What made you decide to purchase the Star Café?
Kristin: The Star Café was owned by my husband’s brother 10 years ago. It is a very good business. We wanted to challenge ourselves. We have been married 17 years and we have both worked at Chinese restaurants during that time. This is something new for us. A friend told me the Star Café was being leased. We went down to check it out and took over the same day [on June 16, 2015].
• Address: 1540 S. State St., Clearfield
• Phone: 801-773-1672
• Hours: 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily
We only closed for a few days and did most of the remodeling after hours a little bit at a time. We have put everything brand new in the restaurant to upgrade, including granite tables, and we have tried to increase the service a lot too. We completed the remodel two months ago and put grand opening signs outside. We have a lot of good helpers – good cooks and good employees.
How did you come up with the menu?
Kristin: We used a lot of the old menu, but it is not exactly the same. We added some items. We are good at cooking Chinese food. This is a totally different type of food. We like to learn something new because we are young. My husband’s brother is teaching us and supporting us. Before my brother-in-law owned this restaurant, it was owned by other members of our family. We know this restaurant so well so it is not hard for us to run it.
This is a restaurant with homemade food. Everything we make is fresh, just like at our Chinese restaurant. We make homemade chili in a big pot. A lot of our customers say they can’t believe we are Chinese because we make such good chili. We did all the research and spent a lot of time learning. We use the chili in some of the new menu items like the Navajo taco, the chili burger and the nacho chili.
How long has the Star Café been open and what has helped it be successful for so many years?
Kristin: I don’t know all of the history, but some of my customers tell me it has been open for about 30 years. It has been a very good, very busy top restaurant with a lot of regular customers. There are very good pies and breakfast specials for $5.29. I don’t think they can go anywhere to beat this price. Some customers say we have the best coffee anywhere.
Where do most of your customers come from?
Kristin: We have a lot of customers from Hill Air Force Base. We have a lot of every day regulars who come for breakfast. Sometimes they come for breakfast and they come back for lunch. I have never seen customers who come seven days a week until now. A lot of families come here to eat too.
What is your favorite part about being a restaurant owner?
Kristin: I can see customers all the time and talk to them. My husband used to be a very shy person. Now he hangs out with customers. It is kind of like his therapy. They talk to him and it helps relieve his stress. He is very happy. He used to stay in the kitchen but he started talking to the regular customers. He is very happy now. We both enjoy talking to the customers. It is also a good skill for my kids. I have three kids. My older two help at the restaurant every weekend.
• Star Country Platter ($7.89) — home fries or hash browns with choice of bacon, ham or sausage plus cheese, green peppers, onions and mushrooms, smothered in country gravy with two eggs on top.
• Pork Chop & Egg ($7.89) — marinated juicy homestyle grilled pork chop with two eggs any style.
• Homemade Crepes ($4.19) — topped with strawberries or blueberries and powdered sugar.
• Star Combo Breakfast ($7.69) — ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns and two eggs cooked to order.
• Friday Breakfast Special ($6.29) — 6-ounce chicken fried steak topped with homemade country gravy and two farm fresh eggs any style.
• Lil’ Smile ($3.49) — happy face pancake for kids 10 and under with strawberries, bananas and whipped cream.
• Aloha Hawaiian Burger ($6.99) — a quarter-pound beef patty with fresh cut grilled pineapple.
• All Star Club Sandwich ($7.49) — three layers of white or wheat bread filled with turkey, ham, bacon and all the fixings.