When Gary Shyu wanted to fulfill his dream of owning his own restaurant and purchase a building in Grove City the first bank he called said they were “too busy” to talk to him. Fortunately for Shyu, his next call was to Heartland Bank. After talking with G. Scott McComb, the bank’s President and CEO, the two met the following morning and one month later the purchase was complete and China Bell Restaurant and Event Center was born.
Built in 1968, the building needed several improvements and over the years Shyu has made several updates, remodeling the restrooms, conference rooms, the bar, the roof and lobby/entrance area. Most recently they added a new carry out window, which was the direct result of a call he got from a customer (from their parking lot) one rainy day. Due to the rain, the customer was unable to get out and use his power chair to come into the restaurant to pick up their carry out order. Of course Shyu happily took the order out to the customer, but realized that a carry out window would add another convenience customers would appreciate.
Being willing to “go out in the rain” for a customer and understanding the restaurant business is nothing new to Shyu, as his family owned a restaurant in his native Taiwan. He also paid his way through Ohio State University by working for a major Chinese restaurant in Columbus. Now, twenty four years after opening China Bell, about 90 percent of his customers are local residents from Grove City, a community he and his family have lived since the early 1990s – thanks in large part to the service they provide.
“The Grove City community has been very good to me,” says Shyu “and we appreciate all the support that has led to our success.” To further support his customers (and community), China Bell is a frequent meeting place for service clubs like Grove City Lions, Sertoma, Hilltop Shriners and even the local Kiwanis club has their annual meetings there.
More Than Just a Restaurant
While the restaurant certainly was the main focus at the beginning, they now also have a Conference and Banquet center where they can host large events like birthday parties, family celebrations and its one of the only places in the Columbus area that can host an East Asian wedding. You’ll also find the Hole in 1 Lounge (formerly known as the Post Time Lounge), providing the community with a nice, quiet place to gather for a drink and conversation often featuring live jazz music from local musicians.
One of the more unique offerings you’ll find at China Bell is their monthly cooking classes in their Cooking Studio. The Grove City Parks and Recreation department holds classes there quarterly, donating the money raised to local senior centers. Even technology has made an impact on the restaurant, and through their YouTube channel they have several “how-to” videos showing how to create many of the unique decorations that you’ll find at the restaurant. If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a carrot into a bird, a ribbon of flowers or even a tulip, hop on over to YouTube and you can see for your self just how these unique items come to life.
When asked what the future holds for China Bell, Shyu’s goal is to be “the destination to eat” for those that live in the Grove City area. “When China Bell’s name is mentioned, we want people to immediately associate us with great food and exceptional service,” says Shyu. “Our business is really about the people – both our customers and the quality staff we have to ensure a great dining experience.”