Dennis and Lynn Wong know that every city needs a cozy, comfortable, neighborhood cafe. That’s why they’re serving casual, comfort food from the Blue Plate Diner and freshly-roasted Dunn Brothers coffee.
Sharing culture through cuisine
In the mid-1930s, Dennis’ grandfather, Hing Wong, a schoolmaster from China, came to the U.S. to find support and funding for his students. He soon learned, though, that his skills in the classroom could be translated into the kitchen. As a way to share his culture with Americans, he opened Canton Cafe is Austin, Minnesota. Customers began lining up for a taste of the new cuisine. His sons and their families soon joined him in the kitchen.
In 1952, Dennis’ father and mother together along with his uncle and aunt opened Wong’s Cafe in downtown Rochester. The same families would continue sharing their culture through food until 1982 when operations were passed on to the next generation, including Dennis and Lynn. In 2005 Wong’s Cafe switched ownership and location, allowing Dennis and Lynn to focus on their coffee shop.
In 1958, Lynn’s extended family opened a small Chinese carry-out restaurant, Fong’s Chow Mein, in a Bloomington strip mall. Soon outgrowing that location, the family opened David Fong’s Restaurant just a few blocks away. The full-service restaurant is one of the longest-running, family-owned eateries in the Twin Cities.
A new venture, a time-tested tradition
As a way to open and run a business separate from Wong’s Café, Dennis and Lynn converted a frozen yogurt shop into a small coffee shop, the Java Café. A few years later, they turned that space into Dunn Brothers Coffee. Gaining access to single-origin coffees, Dennis and Lynn learned how to roast coffee on-site. Later, in the adjacent storefront, the Wongs opened the Zumbro River Cafe, featuring a traditional table service menu. In 2020, they rebranded to Blue Plate Diner. Today, the space is a shared operation with comfort foods from the Blue Plate Diner and beverages by Dunn Brothers Coffee.