HYDE PARK — Cantonese restaurant Jade Court, which opened last fall in Hyde Park with a takeout-only menu, will celebrate a year of operation with a belated ribbon-cutting ceremony this weekend.
Festivities will begin with a traditional Chinese dragon dance performed by the Seven Star Lion Dance Group at noon Saturday on Lake Park Avenue near 53rd Street. The dancers will circle the block before ending at the restaurant, 1516 E. Harper Court.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony — featuring cocktails, appetizers, a Peking duck carving and cake from Chatham’s Brown Sugar Bakery — will follow the dance.
“I wanted to support a local, minority female-owned business,” Jade Court owner Carol Cheung said of the Brown Sugar Bakery partnership. “A lot of restaurant owners, especially small businesses, we’re the ones that are really struggling. We don’t have big restaurant groups behind us, so we’re basically all on our own.”
Jade Court shares its name with the first restaurant Cheung’s father, Eddy, opened in Toronto in the 1970s. Its prior Racine Avenue outpost opened in 2016 and closed in 2019, after Eddy died at the age of 69.
Since opening at Harper Court in November 2020 with a limited menu, the restaurant has begun offering “a full Chinese menu” including dim sum items, live lobster and crab, Peking duck and steamed whole fish.
Toronto fried rice is among the restaurant’s off-menu items, as are “secret,” homestyle weekend specials announced days in advance — assuming suppliers can provide the necessary ingredients, Cheung said.
Supply chain issues, price hikes for ingredients of up to 40 percent and difficulty hiring staff have made for a “tough” first year of operation, Cheung said.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s never been as hard as this last year,” Cheung said.
Yet Hyde Parkers and “old friends” who have followed Jade Court through its past iterations have shown up to support the restaurant, as Cheung predicted last year.
Neighborhood residents have been longtime customers of Cheung family restaurants, dating back to the family’s time operating Phoenix Restaurant in Chinatown.
The celebration offers a chance for togetherness as Hyde Park grieves a series of violent incidents last week that left two people dead, Cheung said.
The intersection of 53rd Street and Harper Avenue near the restaurant was the site of a midday shooting that led to Kilwins’ temporary closure and left bullet holes in the windows of the neighboring Hyatt Place.
“The timing seems good now because a lot has been happening in the neighborhood in the last week, and it is very upsetting,” Cheung said. “It’s nice that people have something to look forward to: a celebration.”
Jade Court is “tucked away a little bit,” and pedestrian traffic has dwindled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cheung said. With events like Saturday’s celebration, more people can spread the news about the restaurant through word-of-mouth, she said.
“People are still just finding out about us because of the weird time that we opened,” Cheung said. “I want to say thank you to the people in the neighborhood for their support over the year and to create a little bit more awareness that we’re here.”
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