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Restaurant installs new good-fortune symbol

China Buffet restaurant owner Shan-Pao Hou, left, his wife, Tracy, and 9-year-old son, Darren, stand next to one of the new 2,000-pound stone dragons placed in front of their restaurant Friday. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/4/04] Nine-year-old Darren Hou said he watched Thursday afternoon as the two new lions were placed in front of China Buffet, a local restaurant owned by his parents, Shan-Pou and Tracy Hou.

“Nobody can take this one unless they use a forklift,” Darren said.

The male lion of the couple, which represent good fortune and good business in Chinese culture, was stolen from the business in July. The lion was never found.

Shan-Pou Hou immediately began looking for a replacement in his hometown of Fu Jian, China. To replace the lion, Hou had to buy two more because the statues are sold only as a couple male and female. After he found the perfect couple 2,000 pound hand-carved solid stone statues it took a month for them to be shipped to the restaurant. The couple cost about $2,800, Hou said.

Charles Toney, owner of the east Vicksburg restaurant, and seven workers used a forklift to place the statues in front of the building Thursday at about 4 p.m.

Hou said he feels better with his lion couple to greet guests. The original pair was placed in front of the restaurant as part of a three-month remodeling project that ended in January. It was only six months before the male was stolen. The new lions were put in the same location as the original.

The remaining female lion statue a 400- to 450-pounds of concrete and fiberglass that cost $1,000 with its mate hasn’t been forgotten. The Hous have placed it underneath the sign on the side of their restaurant.

In addition to the new lions, they have also added lighted signs with panda bears on them, another sign of good fortune, on the facade to prepare for the upcoming Chinese New Year in February.

“It’s to make Vicksburg more pretty,” Tracy Hou said. “It’s filled with old Chinese beauty.”

It was important for the Hous to have the couple in time for the new year.

“They believe in having everything in order before the new year,” family friend Bobby Polk said.

The Hous said they are worried that something will happen to their new lion couple, but they have high hopes that they will be able to enjoy this couple for a long time.

“A policeman drives by,” Tracy Hou said. “I don’t think anyone will do anything.”