The Creation of Mah Jong's by Chef Mike
Why Mah Jong's ?
By definition, Mah Jong is a Chinese social game often accompanied by the theme of gambling. Over many years, it has been played in the "benevolent society/clubs" in the depths of Chinatowns across the globe, as well as in homes and public parks everywhere.
Chef Mike grew up in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco in a two-story Victorian house where he lived with his grandparents, mom, and two older sisters. They were one of the five minority families living in a predominately Italian – Irish Catholic neighborhood.
His family was definitely on the lower end on economic income growing up, so his grandmother decided to boost family income by renting the extra bedrooms to merchant marines and U.S. Navy sailors that were on leave but traveled to various parts of Asia while on duty.
So, ingeniously, Grandma would host Mah Jong games in the kitchen on Wednesday nights, and Pinochle card games on Thursday nights. Chef Mike's grandfather would come home after work, as the personal chef for the Presidio Army base Commander, and cook food into the late night for the gamblers. Chef Mike, at nine years old, would make whiskey highballs for his new "uncles", and they would tip him twenty-five cents a drink! The Chinese laundry at the end of the block would have "numbers gambling" on Fridays also.
Thus, the origins of Mah Jong's restaurant dream.