Students, patrons fight to keep popular UH restaurant on campus

HOUSTON – More than 800 people have signed a petition to keep a popular restaurant on the University of Houston's campus open.

Chinese Star, located at 4711 Calhoun Road, opened in 1990. Thanks to its low prices, big portions and polite service, it has become a UH institution.

“It’s very ingrained in the culture of the University of Houston,” said longtime customer Caitlin Start, a UH Junior.

Despite the constant line nearly out the door, according to UH, a lease agreement with the restaurant expires at the end of the fall semester and the university has decided to explore other options for the restaurant’s location.

“I was actually rather shocked,” Start said. “It’s always busy and there are always people in here.”

Owner Priscella Yang, a Taiwanese immigrant, co-owns the restaurant with her husband. She said it's basically her life.

“I go home just to sleep and I come here all day,” Yang said.

The restaurant is open six days a week.

She said she doesn’t understand why UH doesn’t want to renew the lease.

According to UH spokesperson Richard Zagrzecki, the university is looking for restaurants that “more closely align with its food service model and better meet the expectations of the ever-expanding and diverse customer base.”

Zagrzecki said the space will be renovated for a new food service tenant to start serving the campus in the fall 2017.

In response to the announcement, a petition was started on www.change.org, calling for UH not to shut down the restaurant.

As of Tuesday evening, it had 834 signatures.

“You go to these other places like Panda Express and it’s small portions and more expensive,” said one UH employee, who dines at Chinese Star every day.

Yang said she has developed a strong relationship with her customers, many of them students, through the years.

She said some even call her ‘mom.’

Now she’s hoping a twist of fortune will keep her family’s restaurant alive.

To sign the petition, click here.