Family’s food legacy revived with reopening

Open again . . . Canjoy Cantonese Cuisine co-owner Ricky Cheng is preparing to open for business at lunchtime tomorrow. PHOTO: SHELLEY INON

A new generation of the Cheng family is entering the hospitality industry in Timaru.

Ricky Cheng and wife Vani Yu will be swinging open the doors to Canjoy this week, in the George St premises that operated as Cheng’s Chinese Restaurant from the 1990s.

Mr Cheng’s uncle, who owned two restaurants in the area, built the distinctive building in 1991.

He said his family had moved from Hong Kong to Timaru after the restaurant was opened.

‘‘Dad worked there for a few years, and — when my uncle moved to Christchurch — dad took over.’’

Mr Cheng’s father ran Cheng’s Chinese Restaurant for more than a decade.

He could remember working at the restaurant even before his father took over: washing dishes and waiting on tables.

When Mr Cheng’s father retired, he sold the business, and Naruwan Restaurant operated until October last year.

His father asked him if he would be interested in getting the restaurant up and running again.

A past pupil of Timaru Boys’ High School, Mr Cheng went on to study at Victoria University. After graduating he moved to Hong Kong where he had a career focusing on 3D animation games.

‘‘Even creating things like slot games for mobile phones.’’

He said his wife was a ‘‘Hong Kong native’’ with a background in business development for international fashion and jewellery brands.

‘‘She is also a travel and food columnist.’’

Mr Cheng said his wife made a bold decision to move to New Zealand with him to pursue her dreams and experience a different lifestyle.

‘‘Vani is missing the delicious cuisine of her hometown, at the same time I have the opportunity to get the restaurant up and running. So we decided to jump at the opportunity and give it a go, combining her career aspirations and love for Cantonese food.’’

Mr Cheng said the menu would be ‘‘close to what my dad used to sell, so we’re bringing it back’’.

While lunches would be dine in, dinner would only be takeaways, as they were short on staff while getting up and running, which meant there would be no buffet at this stage.