Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ancient Chinese fire drill

Trying to capitalize on my incredible name recognition, no doubt…

(And thank you, Wendy…as usual and always.)

Ancient Chinese secret?
By Erin Klegstad, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press (Alexandria, Minnesota)
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chances are you cranked your head around the first time you drove by the new China Buffet.

With a red as bright as Dorothy’s ruby slippers, and an orange as orange as, well, an orange, the building along Highway 29 South definitely stands out.

The exterior angles of the new China Buffet along Highway 29 South represent the shapes of Chinese characters, while the building's bright colors represent Chinese celebrations and gatherings.

“The whole building is a festive type of look,” said its architect, Frank Duan of the Plymouth-based architectural firm, Duan Corporation.

He worked closely with the restaurant’s owners – Dian and Mei Jiang of Alexandria – to design the modern building.

Their first glimpse at the plans was “a shock…wow,” Duan said. “After they looked at it, they started to like it.”

The design’s angular lines and bright primary colors pay homage to the Chinese language and culture, Duan said.

Written using a logographic system, the Chinese language is a series of symbols called characters that represent a word or phrase.

The exterior building angles represent the shapes of those characters, Duan said.

The vivid colors stem from Chinese celebrations and gatherings. Many public buildings and temples in China have red columns, for example. “We had to tone down the red from that quite a bit,” Duan said.

The golden orange is representative of grains and rice, a staple in the Chinese diet. “When harvested, the rice is a golden color,” he said.

There’s a simplicity to the building, and it also “kind of makes a statement,” Duan said.

Aside from the unique exterior, the building is “fairly straightforward…it’s a pretty simple building” with the dining on the front side and the kitchen in the back.

“We tried to use color to liven [it] up,” Duan said.

The new restaurant is expected to open sometime in February.

Now, being that this is from a fairly small town, there is plenty of urban snobbery with which we can judge this story. Myself, I like that the phrase “kind of makes a statement” was actually saved as a quote. Must have been one hell of an interview. And the fact that it’s a story at all is quite funny to those of us who live in or near the murder and mayhem of Large, Faceless City, USA. But I do have sympathy for the folks who work for newspapers in somewhat rural areas, as the pickings are slim, indeed, when you’re trying to find anything even slightly newsworthy to fill out a sixteen-page (or more) publication. My uncle enjoys bringing us his newspapers when he visits from Larned, Kansas. I’ve seen more than a few stories about Ma and Pa Whitey who just framed and hung a jigsaw puzzle they’d been working on for twelve years or some such…

But what actually amuses me most about the whole thing – and god bless the internet – is the fact that, at the time I yanked this off the Echo Press’s website, there were thirty-five comments about this story. Damn. Imagine the hornet’s nest that erupts around town when something really juicy – like, with sex or drugs or something – hits the newsstands. Holeee shit.

Anyway, I found the comments as weirdly fascinating as the story. I sincerely envy the fact that a) this is somewhat important news in Alexandria, and b) so many people have comments about it. (Considering the fact that only about half the number of eligible voters actually participate in elections, it’s nice to hear so many folks get worked up about a weird looking Chinese restaurant.) So I copied and pastededed them from first to most recent for your edification and time-killification…


Christopher K - 01/24/2007 10:06 AM
The city never should of let them go with those horrible colors! Its a complete eye sore!

mike e - 01/24/2007 10:41 AM
It is a shame that this building will take some time to be occupied again when this restaraunt goes out of business because of the poor choice in colors.

Raeann B - 01/24/2007 11:07 AM
I have to agree with both of these comments. If i painted my house these colors what would happen to me? The city would be on me, i would be fined, ect..

Mike M - 01/24/2007 11:25 AM
I would also agree that it is horrific...

Kim D - 01/24/2007 11:33 AM
You people are a bunch of communist if you are trying to say that a commercial building can’t be painted certain colors. We live in the USA enjoy your freedoms. Furthermore to say that a business will go out of business because their building is painted a certain color is “Un Fung Shui”

L D - 01/24/2007 12:11 PM
I think it looks GREAT!! It about time there is something to brighten it up out there! And if you are choosing the resturant you eat at, by the color of the building, they more than likely dont want you as a customer anyway! Why does it matter the color of building if you enjoy the food?

Amy S - 01/24/2007 12:15 PM
I really like the colors and the building! People need to learn that CHANGE IS GOOD and step outside of thier box!!! It sounds like there was a lot of hard work and time put into the design of the building and the owners really put a lot of thought into it's meaning. I can't wait for it to open!!!!

S J - 01/24/2007 12:21 PM
it shouldnt matter what they paint the building the food they serve is good that is all should matter and you can always repaint a building if it goes under.i can not believe people these days we should be happy and not complain about a color of a building

DORIS c - 01/24/2007 12:31 PM
That communist remark gave me a 1950's flashback... but getting past that, I took Christopher's remark to mean that it will be difficult to resell the building in that color after it goes out of business - not that it will go out of business because of the color. I have to say one other thing about it, it certainly catches your eye when you drive by. Every one will know where this business is located.

Lindsay N - 01/24/2007 1:03 PM
Really looking forward to the new China Buffet. The food is always great and am sure that the new atmosphere will also be very pleasing.

Lisa M - 01/24/2007 1:26 PM
I don't see what the problem with the color is! They are colors...bright colors! Maybe the yellow in Subway is too bright...should that be changed? Is the red roof on Pizza Hut too red? There aren't many other red roofs around? What difference does it make?? It is eye-catching and had cultural ties!

hayley r - 01/24/2007 1:27 PM
Oh my goodness, it is a building with colors that have cultural meaning. Maybe we can think of it as an opportunity to learn, grow and be more tollerant instead of so close minded. If, and that is the key word here "IF" the resteraunt goes out of business, I am sure that the building will have no problem being sold. It is called paint people...a rather inexpensive way for someone to change to look of the building if they so choose.

c m - 01/24/2007 2:04 PM
the building looks great.... glad to see some progress for businesses that have been around this area for awhile... it will probably help their business to be located in an area that is passed by constantly by those that live here and those that are just passing by... kudos to the owners!

ted s - 01/24/2007 2:08 PM
They can paint their building whatever color they want, but I think the colors are garish. Whether it's a cultural thing or just the colors they want in my opinion it's an ugly combination, but like another poster mentioned you sure will notice the building.

greg b - 01/24/2007 3:45 PM
NAPA Auto Parts Store isn't very attractive either.

Leah L - 01/24/2007 4:20 PM
the alexandria planning commission should be flogged for allowing those colors, its totally out of character for the area

marty s - 01/24/2007 5:14 PM
I personally don't care for the color combination, but who cares, it's fitting for that type of restaurant. It looks entirely more welcoming then the building and location they're in right now. It's no different then the bright red and white barn that KFC is in, but it's fitting for that restaurant, and the bright red hat that's on the Arbys sign, it's fitting for that. I don't hear people barking about those places and their color choices.

David B - 01/24/2007 9:55 PM
Double happiness it isn't.

james d - 01/24/2007 11:46 PM
Bright colors is all I can say. Bringing culture to towns is good to help expand people's horizon. Even if this has nothing to do with culture, it is a unique building and the owners should be proud to do something outside the box.

Brandon B - 01/25/2007 12:56 AM
It is a crying shame to set here and read the negative comments that people write here about a couple with a dream and ambition,not to say the Million dollar amount that it is costing to get the land and put in a building and parking lot. Probably those that are complaining about the color don't have the guts or the know how to do this. You would drive to the cities and not think twice about going in to a place of wild colors. It catches your eye and it will attract the people off the interstate to come and eat, which are the people they want since so many talk about it going out of business,before it even opens. You have to stop and remember, these are people who live in Alec and will keep the money in Alec, not a chain that takes deposits to the bank to be transfered out of state to some other state. These are your hometown people,maybe of different skin color but they are our people, treat them like good people, because they will be paying in taxes to the city coffers whether the building is green,black,orange or red. Get A Life!!!

Andrew W - 01/25/2007 2:53 AM
I believe colors have strong ties to the sub-conscience. Colors have the ability to change a person's mood at any given time. Why do people have favorite colors? It is because they take a liking to a certain color because of the way it makes them feel. Do these colors make the majority of Alexandria or any city for that matter feel good, obviously not based on the responses. Good business sense would be to change the colors... but what do I know about business? I wish them good luck with everything they do. I am more than willing to open the book regardless of the cover.

Laura H - 01/25/2007 10:07 AM
I would like to congratulate China Buffet and Hiltop Lumber for courage to think outside the box. I returned from New York City for a visit, and was delighted to see the amazing growth of business and diversity, but still sense a very conservative atmosphere. I wish more people would open thier minds to different ideas, and travel greater than a 50 mile radius of the city limits to see the truly colorful, diverse, and beautiful world that is out there.

nancy j - 01/25/2007 12:01 PM
I like the design of the building, and the fact that China Buffet will be moving to a much newer, nicer location, but I have to agree with some that I do not like the color choices.. I'm fine with it being there, but to me it just doesn't scream "Chinese Restaurant!" It says something like "Space Aliens" Or "Chuckie Cheese" ..Some sort of child based restaurant chain...

Andrew W - 01/25/2007 1:06 PM
Don't most restaurant owners/designers strategically use reds, yellows and greens because these colors help enhance the appetite and are found more appealing to most people? Since these are also the favorite colors of the Chinese is very suprising to me...that they used bright colors, but not the 'correct' colors to attract business and appeal to the senses. Personally, I think a pagoda shaped building in the Chinese colors would have been a wonderful design rather than a building that looks more like a paint ball facility or a space alien game room....

Judy H - 01/25/2007 2:06 PM
Orange not the correct color? Orange is notably one of the colors that increases appetite. -Did not you the Arby's next door? What color is matched with the brown?

Longtime R - 01/25/2007 2:08 PM
The color is hideous, as is every other Chinese restaurant painted this color throughout the U.S. It may be good for their business, because it stands out like a sore thumb and shouts "I'm a Chinese Restuarant", but it surely wouldn't be of any benefit to any surrounding business, since that tacky color takes your eyes away from everything else.

nancy j - 01/25/2007 4:45 PM

Glenn C - 01/25/2007 5:02 PM
I agree, the orange works, for me, it's the blue or maybe the combination that just doesn't seem right...? Seems interesting though, that people either love it or hate it....regardless, I think we all agree that we'd like to see the owners do well, and hate to see something like the color of the building have an ill effect on their business.

Kerry H - 01/25/2007 5:37 PM
So picky about colors.... so much criticism about the orange..... this is america..let them paint it any dang color they want to... When you open up your own business, you can do the same. I think its great that it stands out... isnt that the point?? You may say it looks tacky and blah blah, when did you become an art ciritic? Some people may not have like the Mona Lisa, some did. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the brush strokes of the artist. Ok Fine, you don't like it.... dont eat there, more chinese food for me, lol.

Steven G - 01/25/2007 9:05 PM
For some reason, when I see the color of that building, I get my fill, fut about a half-hour later I need to see it again!

Alvin O - 01/25/2007 9:10 PM
I feel a strong sense of Alexandria ignorant hostility towards the color of this building. What's new? We are a town based on visitors coming here and spending their money. The different design and colors will attract more people traveling through to stop there and generate a greater revenue for this business. Smart move on their part. I think the design is one of the best I have seen around here lately.

John B - 01/26/2007 10:08 AM
This is America. They have the right to paint it any color they darn well choose. Good luck is the most important thing I can say. Get more and better restaurants in Alexandria

Erin J - 01/30/2007 1:05 PM
Is there anyone in the Alex area who doesn't know that there is a new chinese place being built and exactly where? Don't you think passers by on the interstate will remember it to? Sounds like a very good decision from a business standpoint. Recognizable and rememberable. Good for them!

Good for them, indeed...

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Anonymous wendy said...

I'm actually quite impressed that the majority of comments were positive. We are a very homogeneous area (white, of Northerean European descent)so I was a little surprised, and yes, proud, that we sounded rather open-minded.

1:02 PM  

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