Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Humans of Oxford: An owner glad to sweep

By Phoebe Myers, For The Miami Student

Eleven years ago, on Sept. 27, Juan Lin, who goes by Yvonne, and John were married during the Chinese Full Moon Festival. They always celebrate their anniversary the same way.

"What we do every year," she says. "Work."

Yvonne works 11-hour shifts seven days a week at Phan Shin in Oxford, Ohio, the Chinese restaurant she and her husband own. Seven and a half years of 80-hour work weeks, Yvonne working the front and John running the kitchen.

A head chef not above doing dishes, an owner glad to sweep.

Phan Shin is doing better than ever - though summers are rough and the other Asian restaurant competitors in a small college town can be threatening.

Yvonne's mother worked in factories; her father was a construction worker. They wanted their daughter to get an office job with holidays off.

They didn't imagine she'd leave college to run off at 21 with John, who had worked in restaurants since he was 16 and barely graduated high school.

Yvonne saw her parents work hard in China and then in Toronto, but was not afraid of following in their footsteps.

Her kids used to come to Phan Shin after school, but grew bored as they got older. Yvonne's sister-in-law now babysits them every day.

Yvonne finds it hard to leave work. She knows her customers by name, their orders, can accommodate with fluent Cantonese and Mandarin.

She gives out free dessert with dinners at the restaurant. Something small, not too American, something she describes as "homey."

Every year, she orders moon cakes from New York City to serve during the Full Moon Festival, a common tradition that just happens to correspond with her wedding anniversary.