A longtime Chinese restaurant that had been on the cityâ€™s waterfront for decades has moved out of a city-owned building at the Oak Ridge Marina and reopened on Central Avenue in the center of town.
The New China Palace restaurant reopened on Central Avenue on Nov. 22, owner Cheng Ren said Saturday.
The former waterfront location closed five weeks earlier on Oct. 18 after at least one lease extension.
The cityÂ has developed a master plan for the waterfront area that recommends the current New China Palace site off Melton Lake Drive be remodeled as a bathhouse facility. It would be used to support a growing number of rowing and public activities asÂ part of an ambitious plan to revamp the waterfront fromÂ Elza Gate Park to Rivers Run Boulevard.
Ren said the restaurantâ€™s new location just north of Oak Ridge Turnpike near Jackson Plaza features more space in a 3,800-square-foot building. The restaurant has the same menu and pricing, and a similar interior with a new red, gold, and black ceiling from China and traditional Chinese lanterns.
There is also a party room and a bar.
The five-employee restaurant will continue to serve high-quality food, and it is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Ren said. Popular menu items include the house special (shrimp, beef, chicken, brown sauce, and vegetables); a crispy beef dinner with orange flavor; General Tsoâ€™s chicken; and firecracker seafood.
Ren said business has been good in the first week. He said Tony Cappiello of property owner Vintage Development Corp., Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce President Parker Hardy, City Manager Mark Watson, former mayor Kathy Moore, and New China Palace customers have offered crucial support and helped save the restaurant.
An earlier planÂ to replace the New China Palace with a casual diner stirred a public uproar, and it was put on hold. That proposal had been included in a waterfront plan approved by Oak Ridge City Council in December 2009.
In February 2011, the Oak Ridge City Council approved a two-year lease with the New China Palace that give the city time to review its plans.
In April, RenÂ said he has a five-year lease with CappielloÂ on the Central Avenue site.
Some work on the waterfront plan has already been done, including paving the parking lot at Elza Gate Park and building a new pavilion at Melton Lake Park. Last week, it appeared that at least some exterior work had started at the former restaurant site at the Oak Ridge Marina.