The English Kitchen restaurant building was built in 1899 as an adobe structure on a stone foundation. The builder, Charley Hong, built the establishment on leased land after losing his previous restaurant at the Connor Hotel building, in the great fire of 1899. The new restaurant was opened for business before many of the other commercial businesses had a chance to recover from the devastating fire.
Charley entered the United States from China in 1880 at the age of 12 years. Although he became a naturalized citizen, Charley returned in his later years to die in his native land. In Jerome he was well liked, respected, and was known as having fed more people than any other restaurateur in town. Charley’s enterprises included restaurants and boarding houses in the larger mining camps of the Jerome district as well as the smelter town of Clarkdale, the Narrow Gauge Railway terminus at Jerome Junction, and the Little Daisy Hotel.
Hong’s Restaurant, later known as the English Kitchen, was where miners, residents, and travelers could obtain good meals using cash or the popular meal tickets. The Kitchen was known as the best Chinese restaurant in Jerome, frequented by people of all classes and nationalities.
In 1909 Chinese community members were looked down upon and harassed by the white populace. The restaurant was bombed, and the owner was attacked in print and in person. At various times Charley, and the other Chinese restaurant owners would collect town garbage. They also had the contract to feed town prisoners. Such enterprises contributed to attacks in a local newspaper for conditions described as “a menace to public health.” Public outrage died down after health standards were reviewed and enforced and the offending restaurants were upgraded.
During World War I days the main room, as well as the much-used opium den rooms downstairs were used for meetings of the radical labor unions, the Industrial Workers of the World. In July of 1917 members of this union were rounded up and shipped out of town unceremoniously by cattle car.
The attack on the building itself and the increased patronage in the growing town made it necessary to expand on the original building. Adobe gave way to block walls. The narrow wooden walkway and enclosed bathroom added at the back were later reconstructed and modernized. In recent years the interior of the restaurant has been remodeled, however many elements of the original building have been preserved. The row of wooden booths, the large beveled mirrors and original bar stools, even the Birds-Eye Maple floor that were so familiar to customers at the height of mining activity, still remain.
Management of the restaurant remained in Chinese hands until the last East Asian manager, Yee Hong Song, left Jerome for health reasons in the late 1960s. The restaurant was then occupied as a pizza parlor specializing in opera music for the enjoyment of the customers. In the middle 1970s, the present deck was constructed, allowing for increased service to those who enjoy the sun and the scenery while eating and visiting with friends. In the early days of Jerome, these lots were used by the Summers Transfer Company for storage of their wagons. In the late 1930s businessman Phil Pecharich built the last theater in Jerome, the Ritz at this location. Open for about 20 years, the building was demolished in the late 1950s. By then the last mine had closed (1953) and the customers had pretty much left town.
In 2007 the English Kitchen closed down, ending its run as the longest continuously operated restaurant in Arizona. In 2011, Bobby D and his sister Kathryn brought the old building back to life and installed their Ole' Hickory pit smoker in the lower lot. If the smell of pecan-smoked barbecue wafting through town is what brought you in, then the plan is working!
Bobby D's takes pride in home cooked food made from quality ingredients. In our coolers you'll find whole cuts of premium meats, fresh vegetables, spices and herbs. All of our sauces, meats and sides are made in house from our own recipes. The smoker gets loaded up every morning with ribs, sausage, chicken, brisket, pork and more. Your host, the Bobby D's family, wants you to have a delicious meal and a memorable visit to the wickedest little town in the West—Jerome, Arizona.