“It was super lively back then,” Law remembers. “Lots of people. My dad started one of the early Chinese restaurants, so a lot of people who came to San Diego worked at the Mandarin House.”
The Mandarin House in La Jolla opened April 21, 1977 by Tat (John) Law and Wai (Bill) Man. Both men have died of cancer in the past 10 years; Bill Man of Paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer, and John Law of esophageal cancer.
That’s why Mandarin House donates all proceeds from their annual Chinese New Year party to The Cancer Research Institute to help find a future cure and Scripps Cancer Center to help people currently going through cancer treatment. And while the event was restarted to honor both the founding owners, Nelson Law said they had to make a few changes to keep with the times.
While the Chinese New Year party will still include all the food and the Lion Dance — which Nelson believes is done to ward off bad luck and energy in the coming year — it now also has a casino and a DJ to “breathe some young life” into the event that was limited to family friends and employees for so long. Now it’s opened to the community for a $20 ticket.
“2017 was the first year we threw it without my father or his partner around,” Nelson Law said. “Over the years, we did close a couple of restaurants and we’re down to just the La Jolla location. So it’s less employees, less staff, everyone was getting older and the party just got smaller and smaller.
The event was more of a formality to uphold a tradition. With my dad gone, the party is not going to be the same without him. So it was time to either not have a party, or throw a bigger one."
Tickets for Chinese New Year Party, which is held Feb. 23 from 8 to 11:59 p.m. at Mandarin House in La Jolla, cost $20 and include food and a drink ticket. Participants can play in the casino to win tickets for raffle prizes. Last year, the event raised $4,800 for cancer patient care and research.
For more information about The Mandarin House and the upcoming event, visit mandarinhouselj.com.
Chinese New Year party
Where: 6765 La Jolla Blvd.
When: Feb. 23 from 8 to 11:59 p.m.