This summer, Penn students will have to find a new restaurant with seven-course meals and red solo cups. After over 20 years of service to the Penn and Philadelphia communities, popular Chinatown restaurant Charles Plaza closed its doors on May 4.
Voted “Best BYO to Get Rowdy” in the Daily Pennsylvanian’s 2013 Reader’s Choice Best of Penn, many Penn students frequented Charles Plaza. Owner Charles Chen recounted fond memories of the Penn fraternities, sororities and clubs that dined there. Over the years, he has served many students from their freshman years to their graduations, as well as many alumni upon their return to Philadelphia.
Chen recounted the disappointment he felt when notifying a 2011 graduate that his May 17 reservation during graduation festivities had to be cancelled after the restaurant closed for business.
“He always brings people back to the restaurant. It’s like he’s bringing them home,” Chen said of the loyal patron. “...Then I was cancelling the reservation, he almost cried.”
Chen attributed the termination to a 2013 change in building ownership, saying that the new rent was “sky high.” However, he is currently looking for a new location to continue his restaurant.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s in Chinatown, out of Chinatown or in University City — my first priority is to come back for the students,” he said, laughing.
In the meantime, Chen plans to continue his daytime work in traditional Chinese medicine. He has been working with various chiropractors for the past 30 years, and is preparing for a teaching position in anatomy and physiology.
“From my heart, I appreciate all the Penn students these years. They’ve supported me and helped me,” Chen said. “I love them all. Every single one.” n
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