tai tung restaurant & Rex apartments

Historic b&w Sign-page-001.jpg

Project Overview

The beloved Tai Tung Chinese Restaurant, located in the Rex Apartment building at 655 S King St, is a community and local staple in the Chinatown/International District. Tai Tung opened in 1935 by the grandfather of current owner Harry Chan. It is Seattle’s oldest remaining Chinese restaurant and in 2015 celebrated its 80th birthday. When the restaurant was built, it mostly served single men who immigrated to Seattle from the Philippines or China, without their families, to work in the canneries or on the railroads. They could sit at the counter, eat, and be part of a community. Nowadays, Tai Tung continues to serve as an anchor for the neighborhood, drawing customers from all over the region.

In 2016, Tai Tung received a façade improvement grant from the Seattle Office of Economic Development. The owner of Tai Tung took initiative in preserving the history and culture of the restaurant by proposing to install a blade sign whose design is based on historical photos of a double sided neon blade sign the restaurant had installed around the 1930s or 1940s.

The goal of this installation asw to help the business owner improve their restaurant facade and send a clearer message to pedestrians walking up and down S King St about the location of the anchor business. The owner of Tai Tung has been wanting to bring back this sign because of its ability to draw attention to the business in the past. Regular patrons of the restaurant for decades have also asked about the resurrection of this project. It is clear that Tai Tung and the historical neon sign evokes wonderful memories for many in the neighborhood.


Grant & budget management



Completion Date

December 2017

Partners & Supporters

Seattle Department of Economic Development
Western Neon
Rolluda Architects
I.L. Gross
Crown Construction
CEC Electric
Wing Luke Museum