Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.
GT: How did you and Raymond meet?
YAN BELLEVILLE: We met in China. He liked the Chinese girl. And it was interesting to me—not the Chinese guy. I was in my hometown. Then I came here.
Why did you open the restaurant?
I was a server for a long time. His company moved to China. For a long time, he drove every day over the hill … My family didn’t know English, so we made the business as a way to help the family.
How do you keep your food so cheap?
It’s a family business. Lots of things I do myself. We didn’t need to hire people. Me and Raymond—if we need it, we come early, and we do it.
What’s your spicy sauce?
I made it. I’m the only one that cooks it. My son likes the hot sauce. For everything, he has to add some in there.
How do you make your tasty soups?
[Raymond] did it. I’m Chinese, so I cook my way, and his is the American way. He said, “maybe this ingredient will taste better.” His idea.
Egg flower or hot and sour soup?
Hot and sour. I add a little rice and a little bit of peanuts.
How much do you work, and how do you relax?
We come early after we drop off the kid and do some, and then sometimes we go for a walk by the ocean. Sometimes we go for a walk at Costco when Costco opens. We do it almost for fun. Come early, and get started.