Happy Inn to remain open

Mai Hoang

The Muckrakers played their final shows at Happy Inn last year.

Or so they thought.

The band played a concert at the Chinese restaurant last fall, declaring it would be their last show. They had heard Happy Inn would close that spring.

But, when spring came along the restaurant was still open. The Muckrakers held another final show, again assuming that the restaurant would be just a memory by the summer.

Many people shared the same sentiment as the band.

Last year, the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center board expressed interest in purchasing the Happy Inn restaurant property on Kentucky Street.

They planned to used the property to build parking lots for SKyPac.

But, SKyPAC board chairman Rick McCue said the body decided over the summer to focus on buying residential property, instead of commercial, for parking spaces.

McCue said the property is still an option for SKyPAC should the center need any additional property.

“We may revisit it at another time but right now we’re not considering it,” he said.

Muckrakers guitarist John Ruby said he was relieved to hear that the band’s favorite venue – they have played over 40 shows at Happy Inn – isn’t going anywhere.

“Even though it’s not an official part of campus, I think it’s an important part of the unofficial campus,” he said. “I think a lot of students view it as somewhere they could go as an off-campus hangout spot.”

Owner Tom Chang said the prospect of having to move his restaurant worried him. He said other Bowling Green restaurant owners told him it could take as long as six years to rebuild a restaurant in a new location.

He was also concerned with losing his customer base- 95 percent of his business is from Western, he said.

“We would have to totally start over again,” he said. “Different location, different situation, different quality.”

Since hearing of the SKyPAC board’s decision, Chang has decided to resume remodeling plans for his restaurant this summer.

He said he plans on repainting areas in the restaurant, buying new equipment and placing a sign in front of the restaurant. Happy Inn has been without a sign for two years.

“We’re the only restaurant that doesn’t have a sign in the United States,” Chang joked.

Chang is still concerned that he may have to move someday, but said he wants to move forward with his plans for the restaurant.

“I don’t care. I just need to do what I have to do. I can’t wait anymore,” he said. “I’m going to forget about this and do what I have to do.”

Western students, like Jackson sophomore Josh Collins were happy to hear that the nearby Chinese restaurant isn’t going to close or move to a different location.

“Everybody loves it,” he said. “It’s part of the culture of Western.”

Brianne Nickelsberg , a freshman from New Albany, Ind., and La Grange freshman Emily Tolle are roommates in Central Hall.

They said they order Happy Inn at least once a week.

Nickelsberg said she likes the restaurant because the food is good, cheap and it can be delivered to their room.

“It’s good because I don’t have a car,” she said.

Ruby said now that the Muckrakers know Happy Inn isn’t closing after all, they want to play a show there this spring.

“We’re going to to continue to play there as long as it’s open,” he said. “There’s no more final show. No more Happy Inn going-away parties.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]