Flames flare up as Ngai Loong cooks on Oct. 27 at Lotus Lotus Chinese Restaurant opened in Mooresville five days before Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term as president.
Lotus served its first customers on Nov. 1, 1984, and has been a Mooresville mainstay ever since.
Tong was 17 when he began working in restaurants in New York City, where his father was head chef at Mah Jong restaurant on Long Island.
He served as a busboy, waiter and bartender. He also worked for four years as a liquor salesman and even was a hairdresser for a time.
He eventually brought his experience to Mooresville, where he saw an opportunity in a town with no Chinese-food offerings.
“I think I came at the right time and the right place for Mooresville,” he said. “We’ve been so busy, and for myself I feel that I cook good food for the community and everybody walks out of here happy.”
The 63-year-old Tong said Scallion Chicken is by far the most popular of the restaurant’s 100 menu items.
Image credit mooresvilletribune.com