Oldest Chinese Restaurant In America Is In Montana. Wait. What?!
In 1911 Hum Yow and Tam Kwong Yee founded the Pekin Noodle Parlor, and it's been serving Chinese food to hungry Montanans ever since.
When you think about Montana "ethically diverse" isn't usually the first thing to come to mind. That's why when I found out that the oldest operating Chinese restaurant in America was located in Montana. Not only in the Big Sky state, but in the last city you would probably guess. The mining city of Butte (America).
In the 1900s Butte was a bustling mining town, and like many other industrial revolution projects like the railroad, the Butte mines needed workers. Immigrants from Ireland, China, and more flocked to Butte to find work. The Yow and Yee family worked in shipping and laundry before founding the Pekin Parlor on South Main street.
Check out this interview with the owners from May 2022:
As the mining business boomed, various labor unions started an "anti-Chinese sentiment" that would effectively remove Chinese laborer's from their mining positions and force them out of Butte. Apparently, by 1940 only about 92 Chinese Americans remained.
The Peking Noodle Parlor held strong, however. The menu has stuck to classics ever since it's inception like chow mien, chop suey, and egg foo young. Not much has changed with Pekin Noodle Parlor. You have to walk up a flight of stairs to the second floor which leads you to a dim, orange-ish-colored eatery. There are 17 eating booths that are separated by privacy curtains. Get this, the dining room tables and chairs themselves date back to 1916!
Next time you are in Butte (America), you owe it to yourself to visit the longest-operated Chinese restaurant in America. The Pekin Noodle Parlor, 117 S Main St, Butte, MT 59701.