Thursday, April 29, 2010

Local man turns heads with brave new business venture, redefines lemonade stand

Article by Beak Wilder and Heather Wilder / Photos courtesy of the World Wide Web

Charlton Chu moved here from China in the summer of 1969, during the height of the Vietnam War, before anyone in Quincy had ever seen an Asian up close.

An aspiring entrepreneur from the "wanton side of the tracks," Chu quickly set out to make a life for himself in the land of liberty.

However, after years of eating out of dumpsters and sleeping in alleyways, Chu began to feel cheated, believing the American Dream to be nothing more than a lie.

Then, in the summer of 1982, after Reaganomics had paved way for one of the largest economic boosts Quincy had seen since the days of the Granite Railway, Chu opened his lemonade stand on the corner of Beale Street and Prospect Avenue.

But the glory days of Mr. Chu's Lemonade Stand did not last forever.

Mr. Chu's Lemonade Stand was a thriving business at first, but the addition of Minute Maid Light Lemonade at the Wendy's on Newport Avenue nearly devastated his business, as Chu, a simple Asian man, found himself unable to compete with the low prices of such a large corporation.

Refusing to give up his philosophy of only using the finest Meyer lemons, Chu eventually found himself nearing the brink of poverty, as the rise in Chinese import tax, combined with the economic recession at home, became too much to bear.

But then, after several hours of deliberation, Chu got an idea.

Chu, who had always been referred to as the "Cajun Asian" back in his fraternity days at Yale, mainly due to his love for Louisiana spices, decided that where his little lemonade stand once stood, he would build an empire.

And as history has taught us, every empire starts with a dream.

"Why only lemonade?" Chu bumbled, as he struggled with the English language like a drunk autistic kid on ketamine. "Why not Zatarain's rice?"

For years, Chu worked on this new business plan and presented it to local investors, most of them flat-out refusing to have any part of what they described as the "idea of a child," claiming it could "never work in a million years."

But Chu never even blinked an eye to these comments, party because he had faith in his newfound venture, but mostly because he has absolutely no eyelids.

Using money he had saved and inspiration from Brian Dennehy's haunting portrayal as Kublai Khan, the Emperor of China, in 2007's TV mini-series, Marco Polo, Chu moved forward with his idea, opening his rice stand on the very same corner.

Brian Dennehy as Kublai Khan, the Emperor of China, in 2007's Marco Polo.

It was your typical tale of a victorious underdog as dozens of residents lined up for piping hot bowls of Zatarain's New Orleans Style Dirty Rice.

"A bowl of rice really hits the spot on a day like today," spoke neighborhood watchman Dean Shaddick, as his Triple Fat Goose kept him protected from the harsh, bitter chill of an unusually cold April afternoon. "I don't know what he's gonna do when the weather gets warm, though. Might wanna think about maybe selling lemonade again, who knows?"

Mr. Chu's Zatarain's New Orleans Style Dirty Rice Stand will be open for business seven days a week on the corner of Beale Street and Prospect Avenue, where friends and family expect Chu to lose everything before the August Moon.

1 comment:

Beakeysdad said...

I will go there every day and buy rice from him.