Monthly Archives: August 2012


August 29, 2012

My name is Ming Lin. I am the founder and president of Chinese American Restaurant Association (CA-RA), an organization made up of, and limited to, Chinese restaurants throughout North America. I will tell you a little more about me and my background below, but first let me tell you about Chinese American Restaurant Association.

But, before I do that let me say, WELCOME, and thank you for taking the time to read this feature article and reviewing the rest of CA-RA’s website.

This website represents a monumental event for me, but it also represents a wonderful opportunity for you, and all Chinese restaurants throughout North America. Chinese American Restaurant Association is made up of Chinese restaurant owners across the United States and Canada. Can you even imagine what kind of buying power an organization of that magnitude can mean?

Have you ever wondered how Wal-Mart can sell most items in their huge stores below what the same items are sold for at other stores in the same city or town? One of the reasons they are able to do this is because of their monumental buying power. They buy in large volumes, which allows them to get the absolute best price available from every wholesaler from whom they buy. As a member of Chinese American Restaurant Association you too will have group buying power. The more members CA-RA has, the more leverage we will have in getting the best prices. And there is more, so much more.

But, before I tell you more about the tremendous benefits of becoming a member of Chinese American Restaurant Association, let me tell you a little about me, and I promise to tell you more in future messages from my corner of this website. My name is Ming Lin. I am a first- generation Chinese American, which means I was born in Turnin , China, as were my parents. Soon after I was born my father immigrated to the United States, to New York City. In New York my father learned the Chinese restaurant business from top to bottom. As soon as he was able to do so he opened his own restaurant, which was a dream come true. When I came to America at age 14, I spoke no English, and I began to learn so many things about this new culture and this new language. My father had opened his own restaurant, so I grew up in the business. I learned everything about a Chinese restaurant business, and I learned firsthand how hard it is. I saw how hard my family, and all those with whom we work had to labor, usually seven days a week.

One thing I learned very early, was how important it was to be able to buy everything at the lowest possible price. I learned it was important to provide the best quality food at a price that allowed our customers to keep coming back. To do that we had to work long hours and find ways to spend less for everything we had to have to make our business operate.

I soon learned that because we were a small restaurant we did not have the ability to buy many of the things we needed at the same low rates as the chain restaurants are able to do. Can you imagine what the buyers for McDonalds can negotiate from their many suppliers? For example, Pepsi and Coke are always trying to win each other’s customers. As individual restaurant owners we have little bargaining power with these power houses, but, imagine being able to negotiate a deal that will guarantee that all member restaurants will serve one or the other. If we are 100,000 strong we are a force to be reckoned with. And that is what you can do, as a member of Chinese American Restaurant Association.

Today our footprint is small, because as you read this you are one of the first to see this newly formed organization. As we grow we will have more clout, and the benefits will grow with it. But, even today, as we begin to forge new alliances, with suppliers large and small we have already identified critical suppliers that will be able to make membership in Chinese American Restaurant Association a must. Being a member will instantly mean access to things like competitive interest rates on loans and below-market credit card swipe fees, and as we gain with membership growth we will be able to negotiate even better rates for our members.

But the benefits list doesn’t stop there. A member of Chinese American Restaurant Association will be able to make submit a confidential inquiry on CA-RA’s member’s page and get Legal Services for any and all legal matters? Lease agreements. Contract Services. Employment Law. Immigration Law. Even better, these legal services will be provided at CA-RA member prices, with professionals in the area of law you seek.

Life Insurance. Chinese American Restaurant Association has worked hard to identify insurance professionals who can provide all types of insurance for Chinese Americans with special low rates. These are the best rates available and only for Chinese American Restaurant Association Members. Where possible we use Chinese American insurance professionals, who have access to the companies who provide the most secure coverage, with companies we trust.

Business Insurance. Chinese American Association members get access to the lowest market rates for business insurance. The savings for business insurance alone could be more than enough to pay your annual membership.

As Chinese American Restaurant Association grows and we get more members our ability to get even more services, at even better rates will grow too. Please accept this as my personal invitation to be one of our Charter Members. I am extending this offer to a limited number of Chinese Restaurant owners and managers. The membership rate is this wonderful organization is $80.00 per year, but so we can build our numbers quickly, and to grow our rolls quickly we are offering you the rest of 2012 and all of 2013 for the low annual rate of $80.00. That is right. The rest of 2012 is Free. Free. Free.

Your membership will immediately allow you to begin getting the best prices on products and services. The money you save comes direct from those suppliers with which Chinese American Restaurant Association has already negotiated special rates. These prices are below the prices that can be had by going directly to these companies on your own.

Watch this website for new CA-RA partners that are added as we continue to partner with companies that can save our members even more money. It is our commitment to our members to save more money every day

Our website is up and running, and will be updated with new savings opportunity for a wide range of services, all available to members of Chinese American Restaurant Association. You will be provided a membership number to use with each provider. Use it, and let us and your fellow members know of your savings. Send us an email or letter. We look forward to hearing from you.

I am excited, and I hope you are too. There is power in numbers, and as a member of Chinese American Restaurant Association you will have the power of thousands of other members.

As we stand together in this Association our numbers will allow us to have more economic and political security and influence.

So, I ask you, as a fellow Chinese American, who knows the value of the services that you offer, and the difficulties you face, come join us. Together we are strong. Together we can accomplish much. Together we have the buying power and influence of the largest chain restaurants and businesses throughout the world.

Chinese American Restaurant Association is your organization.

Many people, one voice.

Ming Lin
Chinese American Restaurant Association

New Century Buffet, Sam & Jenny Chen

August 28, 2012

The Chinese American Restaurant Association (CA-RA) is proud to feature one of CA-RA’s inaugural members, Sam and Jenny, owners and operators of New Century Buffet of Nashville, Tennessee. Sam and Jenny are both from the Fujian Province ( near the southeast coast of China where they both learned traditional recipes of Chinese cuisines. Their parents both immigrated to New York City twenty years ago, but soon found that there were other opportunities in another part of the United States. They found a less aggressive life style when they moved south into mid-state Tennessee, where Sam and Jenny met and eventually found love. Nashville has much to offer, but it has different life style, much different than the hustle and bustle of Chinatown in New York City.

Jenny learned cooking and food-preparation skills making traditional style Chinese dishes in her home as a child. As she grew older she learned that she became very good at providing dishes such as variations of seafood soups, fried rice with pork, lo mein topped with chunks of peppery jerk chicken, scallions and tiny shrimp with her own secret recipe of dipping sauce. Sam described himself as a renaissance man, and said he tried other trades before he and Jenny combined their individual skills and opened New Century Buffet in 2003.

From the beginning Jenny and Sam knew what they wanted in their restaurant. They wanted more than just egg rolls, chop suey, and drinks with paper umbrellas. They wanted to put the authentic taste of China into every meal. To accomplish that Sam and Jenny insisted on staying authentic and the use of stir-frying and steaming as essential part of the Chinese dishes they oversee on a daily basis.

To make their restaurant special they spent much time seeing that the recipes from their home found their way onto the food bars and at the dinner tables of New Century Buffet. Different variations of noodles, such as hand-pulled, rough-textured, ruffle-edged, pin-rolled, belt-shaped and in combination with recipes used with certain spices and ingredients as garlic, soy sauce, ginger and green onions provide the taste of China as it is presented to their customers in metropolitan Nashville.

Sam and Jenny know that running a restaurant, especially a restaurant based upon Chinese traditional dishes and American-Chinese dishes in a large metropolitan area in the south requires quality food at a price that the customer can afford to pay so the customer will return again and again. And, they tell others of their experience and encourage them to also visit New Century. How do you provide affordable yet quality food with so many demands upon limited resources available for a family-owned business? Sam said, “You have to look for every opportunity to save money, on everything that you buy. The customer doesn’t care that your food costs have increased 20% over the last twenty four months. What they want to know is how much they have to pay for the meal they buy from us, and they want to do it in pleasant surroundings.”

New Century Buffet must have found the formula, because they offer nine full buffet tables, with a wide range of delightful and tempting Chinese dishes. Some of these offerings are authentic Chinese, and some are dishes that cater to the tastes of their customers, many of whom are from ethnic groups other than Chinese. There is simply no way to sample all that is available for selection in one visit.

When you first enter into the New Century Buffet you are greeted with a warm welcome from a neatly dressed Chinese hostess or waitress who escorts you immediately to a seat at one of the dinner tables. The wonderful aroma of fresh Chinese style preparations rise in the air to tempt your taste buds as you pass by the food bars on your way to a table and seat in an area you choose to sit.

When I first walked into New Century Buffet I was first struck by the size of the place. It is huge, with 13,000 square feet and over 400 seats. A restaurant this size takes a lot of people to make it run. There are 25 employees that provide a wide range of traditional restaurant employee services. But, it is often either Sam or Jenny that greets you at the door and welcomes you to their restaurant. For those visiting for the first time they explain that it is an all you can eat buffet, with the availability of specialty dishes like whole fresh lobsters that are waiting in holding tanks just to the left of the door when you enter the restaurant.

Cleanliness. On the day that I visited with Sam and Jenny, with only a couple of hours advance notice to let them know that I was coming, I was quickly taken by how clean and fresh everything looked. I arrived at just before noon so the food bars had been opened and used for a little while, and the restaurant was already beginning to get busy. It was apparent that it was a constant job to keep the nine bars refreshed and looking inviting. When the several helpful Chinese waitresses are not busy providing drinks and service to the customers they freshen the food bars. From the kitchen came new additions, and older offerings were either removed or given new life. When I spoke to Sam about this on-going attention to the bar he seemed surprised, and explained that this is one of the reasons that his customers visit New Century. Sam said he had visited other restaurants that offered buffet styles, many of which were not Chinese, and he learned from the customer’s point of view what was important to someone wanting to enjoy eating in a buffet restaurant environment.

Sam and Jenny, in their design and layout of the restaurant, improvised one sushi bar with a Mongolian bar to provide an even greater look and taste of Asia.

Now for the difficult task. How do you decide what food experience do you want to enjoy. Maybe it is something that you have enjoyed in the past, or maybe it is a new treat? The selections available seem almost endless. It is often hard to select from one of the nine food bars.

Visiting the New Century Buffet was an enjoyable experience, and one that others, like me, will want to experience again and again. Sam and Jenny have accomplished their goal. Everyone at Chinese American Restaurant Association joins with me to express our thanks for allowing us to join with them on this wonderful tour. They even treated me to a wonderful meal. I offer my personal and heartfelt thanks to both Sam and Jenny. I wish them both continued good health, and success.

Featured Members

Sam Chen (left) w/ CA-RA President Ming Lin
New Century Buffet - Nashville, TN.

The Chinese American Restaurant Association is proud to feature one of our newest members, Sam and Jenny Chen of Nashville, Tn.

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