What motivated you to own the barbecue house?
The store is over 130 years old. I’ve been here for 25 years. I learned from the owner before me.
There were two business partners working together who opened the store originally. When one of them wanted to retire my dad decided to take part in the business too.
Is this a good location for you?
Usually, people know that we’re here. All the locals know and when tourists ask they’ll usually recommend here.
I think this business might be able to exist outside of Chinatown but it definitely adds to the authenticity to have it here.
What is your customer base?
It’s a range of people. I’ve heard customers say that they started coming here when they were 7 or 8 and now they’re 50 and still coming.
It’s about 50-50 Chinese and English.
Are there any major challenges about having a business here?
From my perspective as their daughter, its mainly just my parents working and they don’t really hire anyone. They spend seven days a week here, they open and close all by themselves. It’s the long hours, and it’s very labour intensive. I think if someone offered to buy the business they would be happy to retire.
I went to Vancouver last week to visit a barbecue house there. I wanted to see how they’re doing and how we could protect this business and save this business from ever becoming something else. This is the oldest Chinese business in North America.
What is the most rewarding part of owning a business?
Serving the customers and the local people of Victoria, just seeing their friendly faces coming in, and having a warm smile when they eat our food and say its really good. That’s really rewarding.
People who have been coming for years will bring their children in, it’s nice to see them over the years.
Do you spend a lot of time in Chinatown?
Yeah. Everyone knows everyone in Chinatown. There’s definitely a community.
Most of the Chinese people I know because we’re here for 25 years.
Was there ever a thought of you or your brothers taking over the business?
My parents joke about it. I think deep down they might want us too, but they also see how education is bringing us a better future and we don’t have to work as long hours.
Is there anything special you want people to know about Loy Sing?
Our roast pork is pretty unique because we roast the whole pig ourselves and then we sell it fresh every morning.
To be trained in the special delicacies that they make is important. They do the traditional barbecue pig and roast pork. If you’re here on Wednesdays, you’ll see the whole pig get delivered. Restaurants will come here and buy.
In Chinese culture, if you’re going to the temple you take a whole chicken to pay your respects. It has to be done a certain way, and so I would come here.
For Chinese people, there are certain celebrations where there’s a certain dish you should provide, and they know how to cook it here.
Has the business changed at all over the years?
Mostly the same. I make more of some things, restaurants buy here. We sell rice now too, we were just barbecue before.