Modesto eatery relying on word of mouth

Modesto restaurateur Peter Mah sees one indicator of a still-sluggish economy: More of his customers take leftovers home than when times were good.

But overall, the co-owner of Minnie's Restaurant said, business has continued to be strong at the 56-year-old spot on McHenry Avenue just north of downtown.

Minnie's -- known for its Chinese food, tiki décor and exotic drinks -- has added a patio and upstairs dining room. It is a popular spot for class reunions and other special events, and it gets referrals from decadeslong customers.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's gold right there," Mah said of the word-of-mouth business.

Minnie's has kept up its staffing, which ranges from 20 to 30 depending on how busy it is, and prices have stayed steady. It specializes in Chinese food but offered Mexican on Cinco de Mayo and Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

Mah advises other business people to research the market and to stick with their vision for as long as it takes.

"We're paying our bills," he said. "We're putting food on people's tables. I'm happy with that."

-- John Holland

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