1704309864 Restaurateur Bun Tean Khuong didn39t think it would be so

Restaurateur Bun Tean Khuong didn't think it would be so difficult to close Apsara – Le Journal de Québec

Although he's enjoying his first winter in Cambodia, restaurateur Bun Tean Khuong didn't think it would be so difficult to close Apsara, a veritable institution in Old Quebec for several decades.

In late October, a large Quebec family announced they were retiring from the restaurant business. The Khuong family, owners of Apsara for more than 46 years, have decided to end this great adventure.


The restaurant's founder, Beng An Khuong, died in 2001 and his wife Kim Phean Tan, mother of 16 children, died in 2013. Photo provided by the Khuong family

In 1975, businessman Beng An Khuong and his family emigrated to Quebec to escape the communist regime. There were about forty in total.

Apsara was first installed on Rue Saint-Cyrille (Boulevard René-Lévesque) in 1977 and was located on Rue D'Auteuil since 1981.

Model d'integration

“It's the determination and the desire to integrate well into society,” says Bun Tean Khuong about the family's journey that has always attracted great admiration in Quebec.

The Journal also managed to contact the head of the family when he was just a few minutes away from his month-long flight to his country of origin. Emotions can also be felt on the phone. The cut doesn't go smoothly. The connection to the restaurant and its customers was important to us.

“I never thought the Apsara's life would last so long. We were getting tired. It was a habit for over 40 years. We got used to working as a family. “The restaurant was the home of the big Khuong family,” explains Bun Tean, 73, who enjoys riding motorcycles in Cambodia and wears the Nordiques logo on his T-shirt.


Bun Tean Khuong is spending the current winter in Cambodia, where he rides a motorcycle in his Nordic T-shirt. Photo René Baillargeon, QMI Agency

When the Khuongs chose Quebec City to set up business there, they were also adopted by Quebec residents by forming close relationships with them. Bun Teen was a little hesitant to talk about the end of their adventure since the restaurant wasn't the story of one man, quite the opposite.

“We felt it too. Thanks to the restaurant we have many friends from Quebec and we managed to introduce my family to them. Four generations were able to work in the restaurant.”

Since the closure was announced, testimonies have multiplied. The customers did not manage to take a seat in the restaurant on Rue D'Auteuil one last time.

“We only had good words and calls. It was a very difficult decision and we didn't want to announce it in advance. We decide to close because we are no longer able to do so. The reaction is sad, but also positive.”

Difficult Decision

Tireless workers, the Khuongs are now considering real retirement. “We have returned to Cambodia many times, but never for as long as this time. We're used to showing up at the restaurant every day and realizing every morning we're home! This is not our habit.”

Bun Tean also has a thought for the restaurant's founders. His father, Beng Ang, died in 2001 and his mother, who had 16 children, in 2013. When she died at the age of 91, Kim Phean Tan had 43 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren.

“We think of both of our parents, who started at the very beginning. We always think of her. It's a great achievement, but it's like giving up. It’s very, very difficult.”

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