New Chinese restaurant, Lao Sze Chuan, slated to open in Stadium Village

Lao Sze Chuan’s first Minnesota location is scheduled to open Feb. 1.

Students walk past the spot where Lao Sze Chaun, a Chicago-based Chinese restaurant chain, will be opening a location below WaHu in early February. The restaurant will be an addition to a collection of established Chinese restaurants in the Stadium Village area.

Maddy Fox

Students walk past the spot where Lao Sze Chaun, a Chicago-based Chinese restaurant chain, will be opening a location below WaHu in early February. The restaurant will be an addition to a collection of established Chinese restaurants in the Stadium Village area.

Andrew Heiser

Adding to the likes of Kowloon and Hong Kong Noodle, another Chinese restaurant is slated for Stadium Village.

Lao Sze Chuan, a Chinese restaurant chain based in Chicago, plans to open its first Minnesota location below the WaHu apartment complex on Feb. 1.

Franchisee Tony Yang said the restaurant will serve both authentic Sichuan-style entrees and Chinese-American food, like General Tso’s chicken.

The Huron Boulevard iteration of the popular chain will feature full-service dining space for 101 guests, as well as a small bar area.

During the lunch hour, Lao Sze Chuan will offer a buffet that changes daily. Yang said the buffet is designed for students who need a quick meal in between classes.

Lao Sze Chuan has several locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Connecticut, but this will be the chain’s first restaurant in Minnesota.

Yang said he regularly visited Chicago on weekends during his time as a student at Winona State University, where he helped oversee the school’s food service.

Yang, who is originally from China, said he was surprised by the amount of Chinese food available in Chicago.

“I’m always looking for home food,” Yang said. “It really shocked me. I never imagined we’d have regular Sichuan food in the U.S.”

He said students would come from all around just for Chicago’s selection of Chinese food. Yang would frequent the city’s Lao Sze Chuan locations with his friends whenever he made the trip.

Now, Yang is bringing his favorite tastes to Minnesota with his first venture as a business owner for the Lao Sze Chaun chain.

With more than 3,300 square feet of space on the first floor of the recently-constructed WaHu apartment building, Yang is putting his own touch on the restaurant. He ordered decorative materials from China so he could dress it up with authentic flair.

“It is totally a brand-new building, and this place [was] empty, so I can build the restaurant in my way,” Yang said.

He also said he hoped to serve Chinese international students living in the apartments above, too.

“But it’s not just for Chinese people,” Yang said, adding that his recipes are designed to have broad appeal.

Owners of other Chinese restaurants in Stadium Village were unsure how Lao Sze Chuan would affect their businesses.

U Garden owner Spencer Ung expressed concern that Lao Sze Chuan might cut into his restaurant’s revenue. U Garden, which is located nearby on University Avenue, also has a daily lunch buffet.

“There’s a lot of competition out there for business,” Ung said. “It’s kind of saturated with all the Chinese restaurants. Eventually, someone will lose.”

Other nearby Chinese restaurants include Hong Kong Noodle, Kowloon, Little Szechuan and Tea House. Village Wok — a Stadium Village mainstay for more than 40 years — closed in the summer to make way for a new apartment tower on Washington Avenue.

Yang said he expects Lao Sze Chuan to contribute to the vibrancy of Stadium Village and have good relationships with other restaurant owners.

“We can work together to bring people into this area,” Yang said.