Royal Cafe, Baker City, Baker County, Oregon

The sign still remains on the side of the building

The following are editorials from the Baker City Herald. 

Jack Eng

The prominent businessman-co-owner of the Royal Cafe-Shangrila Room was a well known friendly face in Baker

Eng came to the United States as a young man from Canton, China to make a living in the new world.  Opportunities for Chinese immigrants in those days were limited to the restaurant business.

He first settled in Walla Walla and Pendleton, then came to Baker and went to work at Gracie Toye's Tea Garden above the old Levinger Drug Store.  He purchased the Tea Garden and ran it until he opened the Royal Cafe.

In 1962 he expanded the business and took on partners, Henry and Annie Wong.

Eng is remembered affectionately by those who knew him.  One of his employees at the Royal, Karen Skeen, described Eng lovingly: "I know the community will feel his loss because Jack Eng was a for Baker a legend and

he will always remain for me a kind man who would never hurt a single person because he himself knew what hurt was."

Annie Wong remembers him as a man who "loved his work and he loved the people of this city.  He was a devoted and loving family man.  He was a good friend to many."

We remember Eng as the friendly, lively guy who greeted everyone at his restaurant with a word of welcome and a grin.

Baker will miss Jack Eng
Jack at Work 

Henry Wong
A Chinese immigrant who came to Baker with his family in the early 1940s, Henry was a self-made man. After graduating from the St. Frances Academy in Baker, he worked into the restaurant business beginning at the Royal Café in 1946 when he was about 19. He became a partner-operator there in 1962 and took full management of the Main Street restaurant and lounge 10 years later. In 1976 he opened another Royal Café in Ontario.

A dedicated worker, Henry wasn't your typical restaurant manager. He regularly worked as a cook during the mid-day and evening shifts while overseeing the lounge. He often worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, but he never complained. He loved his work and often told friends who's say he needed a vacation. "Work is my happiness."

Because of his hard work, Henry became fairly wealthy during the past decade. He was devoted to his family and to the well-being of Baker County, and both benefited from his unselfishness. He gave countless donations to countless causes, but shunned the publicity, so his generosity went unrecognized by most.

Henry never went to ball games, rodeos or other local events, but he always donated when asked. He gave $500 for rodeo facilities for the Baker High School cowboys and cowgirls, but refused to have a plaque placed there naming him a donor. He also contributed money for BHS band uniforms and gave large sums to St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, just to name a few. He was always more willing to give than to receive.

Although Henry never attended college, he was a real promoter of education. In almost any conversation with him, the subject would get around to education sooner or later. Because of his philanthropy and his concern for education, a scholarship fund is being established in his memory. Specific details have not been worked out, but plans call for $1,000 being made available annually to graduates of Baker County high schools.

Henry always was concerned with quality in everything he did. "If you do a job, do it first class," he'd often say, a philosophy he followed throughout his life. He had a first-class home on Grandview Drive with first-class landscaping and furnishings. When he wanted a pair of boots or a wristwatch, he paid enough to buy dozens of boots or watches for the average man. When a customer indicated dissatisfaction with a meal or beverage at the restaurant, he'd say it was on the house.

Because of the way he treated people, Henry was a gentleman and a gentle man. He never tried to take advantage of anyone and he treated everyone with respect. He liked people and never would say anything against anyone. If the conversation around the coffee counter or the bar got around to what a bum Harry Horseface was, or if someone in his establishment got a little rowdy, he'd say, "Don't cause trouble. There's enough trouble in the world."

A very considerate man, Henry often would offer encouragement to those who seemed down in the dumps. "Hang in there," he'd say cheerily. "Things will work out."

Henry had a good sense of humor. He loved to be kidded. He had more fun when people kidded him than when made jokes about others. Friends called him the "Sagebrush Cowboy" and he took it good-naturedly. He never got mad.

Henry Wong won't be remembered because he was active in the community. He wasn't. He wasn't much of a goer, or doer, or a joiner. But Baker County is richer because he lived and will continue to benefit because of the scholarship that will exist in his memory.

                                           Pat Guymon Photo

This is the only photo we could find of the front of the Royal, if any of our readers have a copy they would be willing to share, please click

Baker County

Used with permission of the Baker City Herald

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