Owner Yen Ju Lin, who goes by the name Tiffany, third from left, recently received the Washington State Department of Commerce Statewide Disaster Relief Grant through the EDC for their restaurant. These grant funds were made available through the US Department of Treasury under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). She uses other EDC services such as business plan writing and coaching with Sean Moore, Director of the Center for Business & Innovation. Grant funds went towards fixing their point-of-sale system, vandalism repairs, and offsetting today’s high cost of ingredients.
Red lanterns symbolize energy, vitality, joy, prosperity, and good luck, all things vital to success, especially in the restaurant industry. Yelm’s Red Lantern Asian Fusion skillfully blends vibrant Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese flavors using fresh, quality ingredients. Behind the scenes, staff and management apply the same dedication to building their business, thanks to the Thurston Economic Development Council’s (EDC) resources, education, networking opportunities, and additional grants made available through ARPA funding awarded through Thurston County.
Owner Yen Ju Lin, who goes by the name Tiffany, and her husband have been in this industry for more than 20 years. She has a culinary arts degree background from South Puget Sound Community College and worked in a world-class chain hotel and as a kitchen manager for a Seattle catering company after graduating from culinary school.
They chose this location for one simple reason: love. “We love Yelm’s community, so we decided to open here,” says Tiffany. “We wanted to bring more choices to Yelm to give more diversity and we like having a nice restaurant here to ensure our guests enjoy the best dining experience. We opened June 9, 2018, and this is our five-year anniversary.”
Red Lantern gives back through more than just delicious dinners and sweet, fruity bubble tea. “We help by donating part of our day’s sales to support Yelm Dollars for Scholars,” she says. “We also taught elementary school students how to make a summer roll. We love to support our community.”
As a family, their story is a perfect example of the fusion they serve. “I am from Taiwan,” explains Tiffany, “My husband, Hung Pham, is Vietnamese. Our background is Asian and my husband’s family owns Lemongrass,” an iconic Thurston County staple.
Even with so much real-world culinary experience close at hand, the EDC’s support and programming have been invaluable. Tiffany recently received the WA Commerce Disaster Relief Grant through the EDC for their restaurant and uses other EDC services such as business plan writing and coaching with Sean Moore, Director of the Center for Business & Innovation. Grant funds went towards fixing their point-of-sale system, vandalism repairs, and offsetting today’s high cost of ingredients.
Word of mouth is Red Lantern’s primary advertising, and they hope that as summer rolls around, “more people come to know and support us so we can bring more delicious dishes to the community,” says Tiffany. She’ll also continue taking classes at the EDC’s Center for Business and Innovation. Tiffany deeply appreciates the ideas and suggestions they provide as well as follow-up and check-ins to see how things are going after the fact.
But nothing builds word of mouth like trying their signature dishes. Red Lantern offers party trays perfect for dads, grads, birthdays, or picnics. In May they catered for the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and are happy to discuss upcoming opportunities to do so for your business, group, or organization. Follow them on Facebook for updates, menu additions, and limited-time or dine-in specials like Xiao Long Bao (chicken soup dumplings), BBQ Beef Banh Mi sandwiches, and more.
Red Lantern Asian Fusion is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Call them at 360.458.1500 to arrange catering or reserve them for an upcoming event, festival, activity, or party. With a belly full of Tom Yum soup, Racha Chicken salad, Heavenly Beef, or Paradise Scallops, you’ll quickly feel the Red Lantern glow and be ready to take on the day with renewed vigor.