How a common vegetarian Chinese restaurant in SLC survived a yearlong closure

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When Extensive Everyday living Vegi Dwelling reopened its doorways in January following a just about yearlong hiatus, a good deal experienced modified. The common Chinese cafe had moved, for 1 issue. Initially found in an unassuming creating in Millcreek, Prolonged Lifestyle Vegi Home is now tucked into a little spot in South Salt Lake. But the most unexpected adjust was on the menu: Regarded for many years for vegetarian and vegan delicacies, Lengthy Lifestyle Vegi Property now serves actual meat.

“We put something alongside one another so all people could appear by and do just one-quit,” claims manager Melissa Lin. But if you are not an omnivore, relaxation confident: All the things is cooked separately. Including chicken, beef and pork to the menu was essential, she says, just after shedding prospects who weren’t satisfied with Long Life’s imitation meat choices designed with tofu and seitan.

For quite a few Salt Lake City veggie eaters though, individuals “faux” meats, doused in tangy sauce and piled on top rated of fried rice or noodles, are the main attraction, as well as a supply of nostalgia.

So when Long Life’s 3300 South spot — with its red and inexperienced signal that imitated the facade of a Chinese temple — was marketed to the metropolis by its landlord in February 2020, regulars were being apprehensive.

After additional than 30 several years in business enterprise, Extended Daily life had to near, and its cozy brick walls, old brown carpet, straightforward picket chairs, and pink and gold dragon decorations grew to become items of the earlier. Sade Killpack, a typical purchaser since 2010, claims she has a ton of recollections of that spot, where by she would frequently have the vegetarian orange chicken, 1 of her favored dishes.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Melissa Lin and Ben Li with their kids at Extended Daily life Vegi Household in Salt Lake Metropolis on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. From remaining are Eddie Li, Melissa Lin, Annie Li, Angie Li, and Bin Li.

“I was seriously bummed out when I believed that they shut for excellent,” Killpack claims.

But Lin and her family did not give up on maintaining the legacy alive.

Hungry customers received the information they’d been waiting for when Long Lifetime reopened in January at 2561 S. State St.

“When we opened the new area, we shared it on Facebook, and persons had been so energized,” Lin suggests. “The very first day, about 40 men and women shared [the post] with their good friends,” and it was flooded with comments.

On social media, some promised to go again as shortly as they could, and some remembered the meals and circumstances that joined them to Extended Lifetime Vegi Residence. Users talked about how they’d been getting food stuff from the cafe due to the fact their mom and dad introduced them there as children. A person common consumer stated every excursion to Utah demanded a check out, or a takeout haul for the flight property.

At 9 a.m. that working day, the restaurant, which usually opens at 11 a.m., had presently gotten phone calls from old regulars wanting to preorder lunch.

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Mainly because, aside from the carnivore-welcoming additions, Extended Life’s standard menu prevailed amid the restaurant’s transformation. Lin’s really like of vegetarian foods is influenced in section by her knowledge of residing in a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong for three months.

“Every morning they wake up early to sing a track for Buddha and every single evening they had to sing a tune also,” she suggests. “And we all ate vegetarian foods, it was so, so yummy.”

Now, the updated menu has options for all tastes, with vegetarian variations of kung pao chicken, pork and broccoli, and cashew beef, as properly as those dishes created with real meat.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Crispy Beef at Very long Existence Vegi House in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

And immediately after months of renovations, the new house is a mixture of previous and new. Even though the former ornate indicator has been changed with an austere white and purple a single that just reads “Long Everyday living,” the interior’s brick partitions and red and gold posters need to sense familiar to diners.

Thanks to the pandemic, Prolonged Life is open up only for takeout. The new place has space for only three tables, and they are currently unavailable simply because of the restriction that mandates a 6-foot length amongst diners. But this modification was perfectly-received by shoppers who are by now employed to indoor COVID-19 suggestions.

And the nostalgia issue stays. In 1994, Utah vegan meals blogger Amanda Rock experimented with seitan, a wheat gluten meat imitation, for the to start with time at Lengthy Existence Vegi Home. The expertise expanded all the possibilities of vegan cuisine for her, she suggests, and the restaurant became a responsible favorite for her and her partner.

Rock remembers Lengthy Existence to be just one of the first vegan-acutely aware dining places in Salt Lake Town. “If you ordered the egg fall soup, they would check with, ‘Are eggs alright?’ They would make positive that you realized that the egg drop soup was not vegan.”

So, even if Extensive Life’s sign, location and menu has adjusted, Rock states she’ll be again, completely ready to purchase lemon chicken with brown rice.

“There’s a handful of Salt Lake eating places that I truly feel so nostalgic about,” she suggests. “But I believe that Prolonged Life Vegi Property is most likely my most beloved food memory.”

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