Historic Yenching Palace Restaurant in Washington, DC Closing June 10th
One of the most notable and historic restaurants in Washington, DC, Yenching Palace, will be closing for good on June 10th. Yenching Palace opened in 1955.
Yenching Palace, located on Connecticut Avenue, NW just south of Porter Street in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, is the secret location where President John F. Kennedy's negotiators met with representatives of the Soviet Union in 1962 to prevent a war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also at Yenching Palace, Richard Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, discussed better relations with the Chinese. After that, Yenching Palace became a popular restaurant among the diplomatic community. Kissinger dined there regularly.
Although Yenching's culinary skills and offerings haven't kept up with newer Chinese restaurants in Washington, DC, it's still very popular among Washington residents, and has a very busy delivery service. It is a much loved family restaurant among neighbors.
Yenching still boasts about their now historic reviews: "In Washington, the China watchers, basking in new found esteem, are acknowledged experts in Chinese restaurants. Their honorable selection; the Yenching Palace," wrote Time Magazine in 1967.
The inside of Yenching Palace is something out of time. There are beautiful Chinese decorations all over, and even a phone booth in the restaurant's lobby. (How many full phone booths are there left?) The booths are classically spacious and comfortable. According to rumor, these booths were bugged by the FBI.
Walgreens, the drugstore chain, has purchased the space from Yenching Palace. The storefront will change; it will be made to look like it did in 1945, or at least as much as possible. Walgreens' design is based on a single photograph from 1945. The diamond windows will remain, as will the art deco glass panels. As for the neon sign that's nearly become a Washington trademark -- that may end up in a museum.