Mary Chung, a 40-year-old Cambridge restaurant that built a devoted Boston following for its Chinese American and Sichuan dishes, is shutting down at the end of the year. Owner Mary Chung and her family are retiring from the business after service on December 31.
“The stars are aligning to tell us the time has come for retiring,” a sign posted up at the restaurant reads. “Our finale will be December 31, 2022. Thank you MIT. Thank you Cambridge. Thank you everyone for 40 wonderful years.”
Mary’s son Tom Chung, who manages the restaurant, says that they have been thinking about shutting the restaurant down for awhile. Now, it “feels like a good time to retire,” Tom says.
The length of time that the Central Square restaurant had been open — 40 years in total — was the major factor in the decision, but the pandemic was tough to navigate, too. The restaurant never returned from the takeout-only mode that it adopted in 2020. The team had planned to bring back indoor dining in September 2021, according to Tom, but those plans were put on hold when the COVID-19 delta variant spiked in August. Another variant, omicron, followed a few months later. The Chungs ended up never reopening for indoor service.
The news of the closure has hit hard for regular diners at the restaurant, some of whom have gathered online via a fan-led Facebook page that is over 500 members strong. The shop was especially known for its adaptations of Sichuan dishes like dun dun noodles, slicked in a spicy peanut sauce, and the suan la chow show, or pork wontons and bean sprouts in a sweet and spicy sauce, as well as crowd favorites like scallion pancakes.
Tom will miss the staff and customers that kept the restaurant going, but “we wanted to end the restaurant on a safe and healthy note for everyone,” he says. Mary Chung will continue offering takeout until the end of the month.