King Fong Cafe
The King Fong building (as we call it today) was built in 1890 on Omaha’s main thoroughfare of the time, 16th Street. Over the past 129 years, it has ‘lived’ through various iterations, and is inherently tied to many historic and prominent citizens of our community, including one of the current owners, Alexander Payne.
The King Fong Café opened its doors in 1920. It is famous for its local mystique and lavish interior ornamentation. The traditional Chinese furniture and décor was transported from China by the original owner, Chin Ah Gin. Chin traveled to Canton to acquire elaborately carved camphor wood panels, inlaid mother-of-pearl teak tables & chairs, ornate chandeliers, and silk embroideries. The Tiffany glass windows in the building are original to Hanson’s Beautiful Café, the first restaurant in the building, which opened in 1908.
The café is a rare example of classic Chinese art. Most of China’s traditional art was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in an attempt to rid the country of the ‘Four Olds’ – old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. That makes it is so much more than a local treasure.
Your preservation organization, Restoration Exchange Omaha, continues to communicate, encourage, and offer expert advice to the current owners about the importance of locally landmarking this building in order to protect this unique asset of national and local significance.