Vancouver restaurateur on the hunt for Sai Woo's original neon sign
Published Thursday, March 2, 2017 10:30PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 2, 2017 10:57PM EST
Salli Pateman is in search of a sign.
The owner of Sai Woo -- a swanky pan-Asian eatery in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown -- is trying to track down the original neon sign that once graced the building that houses her restaurant.
Sai Woo first opened its doors as a chop suey house in 1925. Its delightfully garish neon sign, which featured a giant rooster with spread wings, was likely taken down when the original restaurant was closed in 1959. The existence of the sign was known from archival footage.
“I just felt really connected to the history and really wanted to be a part of it,” Pateman told CTV Vancouver.
During the 1950s, Vancouver’s downtown core was alight with thousands of neon signs advertising everything from cabarets to funeral homes.
“There were about 19,000 signs for every 18 residents in the city,” John Atkin, a civic historian and the president of The Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, told CTV Vancouver. “That was more linear footage of neon than any city, except for possibly Shanghai in China.”
Many of those bright and eclectic neon signs are now long-gone.
“Most times the sign came down, went to the yard and sat out there on a rack and then eventually was recycled,” Atkin said.
While Pateman has had some leads, she still hasn’t found the electric rooster. She’s now offering a $500 reward to generate more interest in her sign search.
“If we don’t find the sign, then we will start a campaign towards bringing back this piece of history and build a new sign,” Pateman said.
A new sign, she added, would be just like the original: a reproduction meant to honour Vancouver's Chinatown and replace a lost piece of its history.
With a report from CTV’s B.C. Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy in Vancouver