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(SS) Chinese takeout staple Lotus Chinese Kitchen is closing its longtime perch in Wilton Manors and getting ready to blossom in nearby Fort Lauderdale.

The neighborhood kitchen, a reliable hub for regulars since 1975, is expected to relocate during the second week of January to a storefront at 3020 N. Federal Highway, Suite 1, taking over the space once occupied by short-lived diner Toast. Once the new Lotus Chinese Kitchen debuts, its former location will close, owner John Yang told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Dec. 23.

A lease dispute with the owner of Lotus’ plaza prompted the move to North Federal Highway, some 1.2 miles northeast of its original location. Yang decided to move earlier this summer, he says, anxious about the survival of Lotus after his landlord sold the plaza to a condo developer.

Once his current lease contract expires in April 2023, his landlords reserve the right to evict him “any time,” he says, which spurred the hunt for a new location.

“The uncertainty was killing me the most. It’s been a ticking time bomb, basically,” he says. “I didn’t want it to blow if I had nowhere to go.”

Yang has signed a 15-year lease for Lotus’ new 2,400-square-foot takeout kitchen, a corner space facing northbound Federal Highway. While it’s a third smaller than his current home, the new restaurant was turnkey-ready after its previous owners left kitchen equipment and seating booths behind. Yang says he’s expecting to draw even more foot traffic from locals living near the busy Federal Highway-Oakland Park Boulevard intersection.

“It’s going to be challenging for the first few months, I know it,” says Yang, 44. “My loyal customers are telling me, ‘It’s only a mile away. We will follow you,’ that’s very encouraging. I don’t want extreme growth at the new place. I just want something stable for me and my family.”

The new Lotus will employ 18 people — many of whom are 30-year veterans at the restaurant, he says. For the move, he has culled roughly 5% to 10% of Lotus’ menu, including boneless spare ribs and barbecue pork ends, which have sold poorly in recent years.

But Lotus’ consistent top-sellers — General Tso’s and Kung Pao chicken, Mongolian beef and lo mein — aren’t going anywhere.

One of Wilton Manors’ oldest restaurants, Lotus debuted in 1975, and Yang’s grandparents purchased it in 1982.

Two weeks before Mother’s Day in 1990, a raging fire damaged Lotus and three other storefronts in the same plaza. Police, at the time, alleged that an employee of one of the burned-out stores set the blaze. Lotus took six months to rebuild, and it reopened the day after Thanksgiving that year.

After Yang’s uncle purchased the restaurant in 1993, Yang became a part-owner in 2008 and took over the business in 2019, shortly before the pandemic.

Lotus Chinese Kitchen plans to relocate to 3020 N. Federal Highway, Suite 1, in Fort Lauderdale by mid-January. Visit

SFGN and the Sun Sentinel are media partners.