The State Restaurant was located at Cedar and East 79th Street in Cleveland’s Cedar-Central neighborhood (now Fairfax) and offered a menu combining Chinese and soul food options. State Restaurant took over for the Jungle Room and remained operational through the 1970s. The combination of Chinese and soul food is most likely a reflection of the fact that the owner was a Chinese man who who married to a Black woman. The owner of State Restaurant was Richard Fee, who was born in China. His wife, Florence Fee, was an African American woman from Dayton. The State Restaurant was the only known Chinese-owned Cleveland business that appeared in the Green Book.
Like other established restaurateurs on Cedar, the Fees had to continually adapt the services they offered to keep pace with the competition. One thing the State Restaurant could boast that others in Cedar-Central could not in 1950 was air conditioning. Like many of the other taverns throughout Cleveland, State Restaurant also had a bowling team that competed locally against other restaurants.
The State Restaurant also had its share of adversity. A Call & Post article from August 1944 states that owner Richard Fee and his brother Paul Wong were fined $100. Judge John J. Busher issued the fine to State Restaurant because they were allegedly serving food that was “adulterated, corrupted, unwholesome, and unfit for human consumption.” One can speculate about the motivation behind the charge and whether it truly reflected the operations of such a popular and long-standing restaurant. The fine was issued at a time of rampant anti-Asian racism in the United States. State Restaurant could have been serving food “unfit for human consumption” or it could have been the object of an unfair attack. All in all, State Restaurant seemed to weather the storm as it appears State Restaurant remained open until about 1979.
Green Book Details
State Restaurant appears in the Green Book from 1947 to 1967 at 7817 Cedar Ave. under the category Restaurants.
- “Courts Issue Stiff Fines In War Against Food Cheats: State Restaurant to Pay $100 Fine.” Call & Post. August 19, 1944.
- “Display Ad 24 — No Title.” Call & Post. December 29, 1951
- “Finer Restaurants Get the Patronage.” Call & Post. February 23, 1957.
- “Guests Okay Air-Conditioned State Restaurant on E. 79th.” Call & Post. July 22, 1950.