Billy Quon's Rotisserie
Thursday, August 6, 1998
Since Billy Quon's Rotisserie at Ryan Ranch opened three months ago, many of their guests who have lived in this area for a while puzzle over what has been a familiar moniker to the local restaurant industry. "A lot of times customers will come in and ask, 'Was there another Billy Quon's somewhere?" Bill Lee's wife and partner, Teresa smiles. "They still recognize the name." If the name seems to ring a bell, it's for good reason.
The first Billy Quon's restaurant originated 17 years ago at what later became The Crossroads shopping center in Carmel. Where formerly only a grove of eucalyptus trees stood, Billy Quon Lee recognized an opportunity to develop a dining destination for local folks in an area not yet sought out by anyone just passing through. The timing was right on the money. The doors opened to a welcome reception and Lee later sold the property, where the bustling Rio Grill stands today.
Lee's entrepreneurial spirit has found diverse expression in the hospitality trade. Schooled by experience gained from working at places like the Sardine Factory, he expanded on the success of his first restaurant by rolling it over into what followed suit as another popular venue, The Point at Heritage Harbor, one of the first Euro-Asian style restaurants in the area. The Orchid Grill in Watsonville was next on the drawing board and was humming along nicely until the '91 earthquake sent the town reeling. After a costly recovery, Lee opted for a year in Hawaii working in the hotel industry before returning to the Peninsula, this time for the GM spot at the Sardine Factory.
Still with an appetite for new ventures, Quon pioneered Coffee Concepts, a cappucino bar catering service that quickly took off, servicing conventions and special events hosted by area hotels. Six years later, both Lee and his wife now devote themselves to overseeing their latest creation, Billy Quon's Rotisserie. "As a matter of fact," Lee remarks, "I just sold Coffee Concepts so that we can put all our energy into the restaurant. We've both been here full-time since we opened and it's been great. We enjoy working together and it's a fun place; it's like having a party all of the time, with all of your friends coming to see you, " he notes.
Both the attentive presence of the hosts and the fun, upbeat 'East meets West' dcor played a role in attracting a quickly established regular clientele. But it's the food that cinches the deal. "Ted Consoli is our chef and we spent time traveling around, sampling different styles of food and getting ideas for styling our menu," Lee explains. "We were in a Chinese market one day and we found some bright red lacquered bowls. They were perfect for what we call our 'Wok On The Wild Side.' You bring this big, red wok filled with steamed rice and Asian cabbage salad, with beautiful seared salmon filet laying over everything, or a rotisserie Szechwan duck breast fanned across, and it makes a lasting impression!"
It doesn't take long to become captivated by the inventive choices and innovative touches that span every part of the menu. From pizzas (fire-roasted vegetable with pesto, for instance) and salads (ahi tuna with lemon-ginger vinaigrette), all the way to the Szechwan ribs, grilled lamb and rotisserie lemon-herb chicken and many seafood offerings, several visits are needed to explore intriguing nuances too numerous to note. And that's not even counting dessert: The special effects might make it tough to remain inconspicuous should you decide to splurge. cw