Family-owned restaurant in Ponte Vedra Beach temporarily closes to grieve loss of mother from COVID-19


A local family-owned restaurant is temporarily closed as loved ones grieve the loss of a beloved mother from COVID-19 complications.

The Chen family runs Lil Wok in Ponte Vedra Beach, which has been around for several years.

Flowers and cards were left at the restaurant to honor Xiang Ri Fang, or Mrs. Chen.

The 49-year-old passed away Wednesday night after battling COVID-19 and other medical conditions, the family said.

Mrs. Chen leaves behind a husband and two boys.

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Action News Jax spoke to Ryan Thompson and Luis Trejo, who are close friends with Mrs. Chen’s oldest son.

They spoke highly of Mrs. and Mr. Chen.

“They have a very strong sense of culture and pride in everything they do, and that’s definitely shown in their restaurant and the care in the community,” Thompson said.

They said family wants Mrs. Chen to be remembered as a hardworking and caring mother who made countless sacrifices to support her family and always put others first.

Trejo worked at the Chen’s restaurant a couple years ago.

“They were such just a loving and inviting family,” Trejo said.

Trejo said the Chen’s, who came to the United States from China, forged their own path to live the American Dream.

“They truly built this restaurant that the entire Ponte Vedra community like knows and loves,” Trejo said. “Almost everyone has gone to this restaurant.”

Thompson and Trejo started a GoFundMe to help the Chen family with medical bills, funeral expenses, and offset any costs while the business is closed. In less than 24 hours, it raised more than $21,000.

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“We are so grateful,” Thompson said. “The showing of support has really brought a bright light to their family.”

They said the show of support is a true testament to the family’s character and what they mean to the community.

If you feel inclined to help the family, click here.

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