DeKalb’s Yen Ching looks to move, downsize

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 10:28 a.m.CDT
(Monica Maschak -
The owners of Yen Ching Restaurant, 810 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, are planning to downsize and move the business and sell the property.

DeKALB – Sycamore resident DJ Ponce has many fond family memories at Yen Ching Restaurant, 810 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb.

The restaurant has been for sale for about three months. The owners, John and Marilyn Yin, say they want to move their business to a smaller location in DeKalb.

It was bittersweet news for Ponce, who has gotten used to driving past the red building with gold writing.

“I remember coming here, seeing the artwork. You see a different world as a kid,” he said. “I’m going to miss it so much.”

Owner Marilyn Yin said they aren’t leaving yet. Although signs outside the restaurant indicate the property is for sale, Yin has had no calls from interested buyers.

“Business is still here,” Yin said. “We’re not saying we’re in a hurry to sell.”

Yin will start to look at where she will move her business once a sale is made, she said.

It won’t be the first time Yen Ching Restaurant has moved.

In 1986, the Yins started the business on Fourth Street. They moved to their current location in 1990.

Roger Hopkins, DeKalb’s economic development consultant, said there is a possibility the new business could choose to remodel or even tear down the entire building, but there are three apartments on the building’s second floor, which could provide an investment opportunity, he said.

Officials are looking to have a full-service restaurant take the space, Hopkins said.

Sycamore resident Sue Dewey wants an Olive Garden to replace it.

“I think everybody here would want that,” she said.

Dewey said she would definitely continue to eat at the restaurant when it moves because of the service she gets.

“Marilyn knows us by name,” she said. “It’s amazing how welcome you feel when you come in.”

The feeling between customers and the owners is mutual. A farmer family stopped by Thursday to donate their farm eggs to Yin. One woman in the group gave Yin a hug.

“These are all my regular customers,” Yin said. “They’ve all been here for many years.”

Sycamore resident Rosa Esquivel said while the business itself is moving, the person who runs it is what really matters.

“[Marilyn Yin] knows everything about you. It’s like family. If she embarrasses you, she doesn’t care.”

Esquivel’s partner, Sycamore resident Cheryl Pointer, understands the change.

“[Marilyn’s] ready to move on in her life and do the next thing,” she said.

Ponce is still reminiscing on what the business will leave behind.

“I have memories of my family with everyone being together,” he said. “It’ll definitely be missed.”

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