Tang's
CHINA HOUSE
Since 1970
165 Cromwell St., Sarnia, ON, N7T 3X4  ~  TEL: 519-336-2200 • FAX: 519-336-2203

"To have a successful business, you have to have a good product, good public relations, & good personnel."
- Garry Tang
"We (Garry & Diana) took no day off & no holiday when the business started. We lived in the apartment upstairs and everyday we go downstairs to work."
- Diana Tang

Did You Know?
  • The Phoenix & Dragon is a wood carving that was purchased and shipped from Hong Kong in pieces and was assembled during the expansion.
  • We have always made our Wontons, Chicken Balls, Egg Rolls and Spring Rolls from scratch.
  • Majority of the Bean Sprouts we use have always been grown in-house naturally without any additives, pesticides or herbicides.

A Brief History

Garry Tang with First Menu

Tang's China House was founded in 1969 by Garry Tang and marked the official opening in 1970. Dissatisfied with the absence of fine Chinese dining in Sarnia, Garry decided to enter the entrepreneurial world and give his business a start. A bold move for any entrepreneur, Garry and Diana knew that preparing good food and courteous service plus the dedication to genuine hard work would play an integral role in the business' success. As with many fledgling businesses, Tang's spent its first year building its reputation and began to prosper well into the 70s and 80s.

Original Tang's China House in 1970

In 1990, Garry was ready to retire and asked Joe Lee to take the torch. In 1993, Joe moved to launch the current 'East meets West' buffet which expanded the selection by combining oriental and western menus. The Tang family still play an active role supporting the restaurant to this day.

Tang's China House continues to offer a delicious array of American-Chinese cuisine and Chinese traditional-style dishes. We are humbled to support the community by contributing to local charities and artistic groups.


Milestones in Our History

The Beginning
1969
Layout of kitchen during early 70s.
  • An entrepreneur experienced in Chinese restaurant operations named Garry Tang comes to Sarnia from Orillia.
  • In December, Garry eyes on a perfect location where the restaurant will reside to this day. A small building on that location was formerly a bar & grill called "Dunlop S-Bar".
    • The bar was named as such because they featured a bar counter that was shaped like an 'S'.
    • An open kitchen concept that serviced the booming local chemical plant industry for breakfast and lunch.
  • Garry decides to purchase the location and begin construction of a kitchen to the back including a 2nd floor apartment.
Sarnia meets Tang's China House
1970
Before expansion, the exterior of the restaurant between 1970-1973, note a house beside the restaurant.
  • Grand opening party held in April 1970 was celebrated with city officials including the police chief; unfortunately the mayor was unable to attend.
  • Seating capacity: 60
  • In its early days, it satisfied the chemical plant workers' lunch shift offering soups and sandwiches.
  • Customers had asked Garry why he chose the downtown area when there was more growth potential in the uptown. Garry concluded:
    1. Brought up in a downtown environment where all the services were nearby (i.e., post office, food & clothing stores, city hall)
    2. He was unaware of the eventual opening of the Lambton Mall
    3. Believed that he can still provide a demand to the plants
  • Did not have a liquor license at the time.
  • The first staff mainly consisted of Garry's family running the entire operation.
The Expansion
1973
Colour photo shot of Tang's Tavern

A crucial period for Garry facing increased competition, lacking a liquor license and a growing demand for wine & spirits.

  • Seeing potential customers walk past his restaurant through the window to other restaurants for food and drink, Garry needed a liquor license to be competitive.
  • A house located to the left of the restaurant was purchased and demolished for the expansion of a new dining room.
  • During expansion, the restaurant continued to operate as usual and never closed during business hours.
  • Significant art pieces such as the ceiling tiles, the four stone flower artwork and the all-wood 'Phoenix & Dragon' wall carving was ordered and shipped from Hong Kong.
  • Garry dropped "China House" from the name in favor of "Tavern".
1974 - November
Ribbon cutting with Diana & Garry Tang and former Sarnia mayor Andy Brandt
  • 2nd Grand Opening featuring a ribbon cutting ceremony with then mayor Andy Brandt.
Establishing a Name
1975-1979
Dining room in the 1970s decorated with flowers courtesy of Diana Tang
  • Garry reflects on this period: "After expansion, the restaurant was so widely known in the community that he was invited to become a member of the many local service clubs but had to decline due to the overwhelming success of the restaurant."
  • With his recognition in the city, the Chamber of Commerce invited him to be a director of the Chamber for a 3-year term. (A certificate is currently displayed in the restaurant)
  • Word had spread so far about the restaurant that Garry received many calls for reservations from out of town, even from Chicago!
  • Because of the ornate oriental theme of the restaurant, patrons would come in dressing in formal attire. Garry was humbled and appreciative to realize that his restaurant has become a fine Oriental dining establishment.
Refining the Oriental Dining Experience
1980-1985
  • Feedback from customers prompted Garry to drop the 'Tavern' from the name and bring back 'China House'. Reason being that 'Tavern' did not adequately suit a food and drink environment and patrons already understood that a bar was available.
  • Expanded on artwork that are still here to the present day.
  • In 1983, Garry introduced the buffet and salad bar. The buffet was well received by its patrons.
Tragedy & Retirement
1989-1990
  • In 1989, fire in the upper apartments resulted in a tragic loss affecting Garry and his family.
  • In 1990, Garry retires and the torch is passed to Joe Lee.
Restoring the Balance
Early 1990s East meets West Buffet
  • This period of time marked the economic recession. A difficult time for all businesses including Tang's.
  • In 1993, a highly motivated effort by Joe to revamp its image introduced the "East meets West" buffet by offering a wider selection of classic Chinese and North American cuisine.
25 Years in the Making
1995
25 years ad message from Garry and Diana
  • In April, Tang's celebrates 25 years of consistent service and quality.
  • A ribbon cutting ceremony was held with mayor Mike Bradley and former mayor Andy Brandt.
  • Local radio station AM 1070 broadcast the entire event and interviewed Garry on the history and success of Tang's.
  • The celebration featured a lucky prize draw and an Appreciation Card that offered discounts for visits.
Entering the 21st Century
1999-2000
Marking 30 years of service to the Sarnia & area
  • Renovations include new carpets and a fresh coat of paint to bring in a revamped look.
  • 2000 marks the 30th anniversary of the restaurant.
2003
  • Nominated for the 2003 Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Award
  • Joe was humbled by this nomination and is motivated to continue offering consistent quality in food and service.
2005
  • Launch of Tang's China House's website.
  • The General will be proud: Our General Tao's Chicken is introduced.
2009
  • Enhanced 'East meets West' Buffet including Chef's Special items and expanded Salad and Dessert bar
  • Tang's is delighted to offer our new Sesame Chicken, with crispy white meat chicken fillets in an aromatic sweet and sesame sauce.
2010
40th Anniversary Ribbon Cutting with Mayor of Sarnia Mr. Mike Bradley & former Mayor of Sarnia Mr. Andy Brandt
Certificates presented to Joe and Garry by the provincial and federal Members of Parliament
  • Nominated for the 2010 Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Award in the Customer Service category
  • Celebrates 40 years in Sarnia with TWO Charity Buffets held on April 10 and 17. Donations were made to Heart & Stroke Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society
  • In attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor of Sarnia Mr. Mike Bradley, former Mayor of Sarnia Mr. Andy Brandt.
  • In presentation of the certificates from Mrs. Pat Davidson, M.P. and Mr. Bob Bailey, M.P.P. during the charity buffet.