For nearly 30 years, Jasmine Cafe was more than just a business for the Bui family. It was a place where they connected with loyal customers and made new friends.
Now, as Ann Bui prepares to follow her husband Tri into retirement, the restaurant is set to close.
“My last day is July 23,” said Ann of the restaurant’s final business day. “Today, one of the customers said, ‘I’m going to come here every day until you close.’ I almost cried.
“I’m going to miss the people; the customers are all our friends. We sit down, talk, and have very good conversations. Actually, this is not really a job, that’s why I worked so many years. I’m always just so happy to come to work.”
The enjoyment Ann found in her restaurant has kept her going since she began. Ann moved to the U.S. from Taiwan 32 years ago, on May 22, 1979, at the age of 32.
“That’s a very special memory,” Ann said. “This year is a very special year.”
Three years after moving to the U.S., Ann opened Jasmine Cafe in August 1982. The original location, where restaurant China Garden is currently housed, was on South Third Street. In April 1999, Jasmine Cafe moved to its current location, on the corner of South Second Street and Second Avenue South.
Since that time, Ann has built relationships with the regulars who frequent her cafe.
“(The customers) see me, pull out a chair, tell me to sit down and talk to them,” she said. “Most of the customers that come, I know what they want to eat. They’re so happy about that. They eat the same thing every time.”
Ann also put her children, Maria and Charlie, to work in the cafe until they went to college.
“They worked in here, and it was good for them and they were happy to work too,” Ann said. “Actually it’s a family restaurant, that’s the only way to keep it going.”
Ann and Tri plan to move to Arizona to live closer to family, and Ann said that she will miss the city of Clinton.
“This is a very nice town, very friendly. I’m going to miss it,” she said.
After July 23, the cafe will not stay vacant very long, according to Ann, who said the building has been purchased. The buyer is set to take over July 25 and is planning to open a Greek restaurant, Ann said.