The Downfall of Maine’s Hottest Chinese Food Restaurant Ever
For so many around the world, Portland, Maine, has become a destination thanks to its beautiful coastline, proliferation of breweries, and world-class restaurant offerings.
Portland's restaurant renaissance has been well-documented, with the city boasting several highly-regarded eateries. Portland is home to a diverse group of restaurants serving ranges of ethnic cuisines, as well as elevated standards.
Believe it or not, this isn't the first time Portland, Maine, was highly regarded amongst consumers. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, one restaurant in Portland was considered to be the hottest in all of New England.
According to CafamMaine.org, a restaurant called Hu Shang took Portland (and all of New England) by storm in 1979. Located on Congress Street, the restaurant wasn't just standard-fare Chinese food and because of that, the crowds began to get larger and larger for dinner service. In fact, people once lined up out the door for a table at Hu Shang.
Realizing an opportunity, the brothers that owned Hu Shang decided it was time for a bigger space. They moved their restaurant to Brown Street in Portland in 1981. The popularity of new space was overwhelming, so two years after that, they expanded to open a second restaurant under the same moniker on Exchange Street.
But with success came friction. Hu Shang had operated both restaurants with a cash-only policy. After years of in-fighting over profits and business practices, the brothers who owned Hu Shang decided to operate each of the two restaurants separately.
Before long, their entire business empire was under scrutiny from both the state and federal government. After a lengthy investigation, the IRS charged both brothers with crimes involving conspiracy to commit tax evasion and tax evasion for underreporting profits and purposely avoid tax payments.
After being convicted and sentenced, one of the two brothers was deported. Both Hu Shang restaurants were closed, and for many who grew up in the area, that void of unique Chinese food dishes has never been filled in Portland.
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