Mikey’s Eatery: A second home to many

Published in the Waterloo Region Record

My dad, Mikey and sister Kathryn, share a moment behind the counter at Mikey’s Eatery in Waterloo.

My dad, Mikey and sister Kathryn, share a moment behind the counter at Mikey’s Eatery in Waterloo.

I can't remember a time when Mikey's Eatery was not a part of my life.

My parents, an electrical engineer, and an office clerk, came to Canada from Hong Kong in 1988. Not being able to find jobs similar to their trades back home and with a family to support, they took on odd jobs and eventually started working in a restaurant located in Conestoga Mall's food court.

As my sister and I were growing up, the fixed hours at the mall made it hard for my parents, to be a part of our lives, and so, after a few years, they decided it was time to move on.

My mom and dad work in the kitchen at Mikey’s. They ran the business on their own for 18 years.

My mom and dad work in the kitchen at Mikey’s. They ran the business on their own for 18 years.

They opened Mikey's Eatery, in Waterloo, in the fall of 2000. This place would become our second home for the next 18 years.

With no prior knowledge of running a business or cooking, my parents started on a journey that allowed them to create a safe space for students far from home, become "Waterloo parents" to many, and offer comfort, friendship and warmth to all who walked in.

When Mikey's first opened, my parents' goal was to create a livelihood for our family. They could never have imagined the impact they would have on those who walked through the doors — an impact that stayed and travelled from students to alumni, new immigrants, the K-W community and beyond.

My parents take a selfie with Kent Wong, left, his sister Semele Wong and brother-in-law Adrian Chang. Kent and Semele, who used to live in Waterloo but now live in Toronto, made a trip to Mikey’s Eatery after learning that the Waterloo restaurant was closing its doors.

My parents take a selfie with Kent Wong, left, his sister Semele Wong and brother-in-law Adrian Chang. Kent and Semele, who used to live in Waterloo but now live in Toronto, made a trip to Mikey’s Eatery after learning that the Waterloo restaurant was closing its doors.

It was not an easy decision to close Mikey's. The long hours, size of the restaurant and the age of my parents all factored into the decision.

On Mikey’s last day of business, my parents take a moment outside to reflect upon the last 18 years.

On Mikey’s last day of business, my parents take a moment outside to reflect upon the last 18 years.

My dad takes one last look at his kitchen, where he stood for the last 18 years.

My dad takes one last look at his kitchen, where he stood for the last 18 years.

It is definitely bittersweet, but as we move toward a life without Mikey's, we are thankful for everything it has taught us along the way and the people it brought into our lives.

After locking the doors to Mikey’s for the last time, my dad is filled with mixed emotions. The decision to retire was not an easy one.

After locking the doors to Mikey’s for the last time, my dad is filled with mixed emotions. The decision to retire was not an easy one.