LEWISTON — Taking up several tables at Cathay Hut, Normand Garrant, 82, and his extended family were all smiles after eating Chinese food on Christmas.

More people seem to be dining out on Christmas. Local Asian restaurants reported they were busy.

“This is our busiest day of the year,” said Cathay Hut Manager Cathy Rousseau.

Garrant said his family usually goes to his daughter and son-in-law’s home for Christmas dinner. Linda Cote does all the cooking.

“This year I said, ‘Why should you bother cooking?’ We love coming here,” Garrant said. “I love turkey, ham and chicken, but this is a little bit different.”

Penny and David Walton of Lewiston and family enjoyed their Christmas dinner at the Hibachi Super Buffet Chinese restaurant at the Lewiston Mall.


He works in the restaurant industry; she works in retail. Christmas was an overdue day on which they were served.

Christmas dinner was “stress free,” she said. “I love the rice noodles.” He came for the buffet. “You get a little bit of everything.”

At Pepper & Spice Thai Cuisine on Lisbon Street, Rick and Lynn Eastman, their son, Eric, and Lynn’s mother, Leta Mayou, sat down for a Thai meal because the ice storm knocked out their electricity.

The Bowdoin family lost power Monday and weren’t sure when it would return. Before the ice storm, Christmas dinner was going to beef stroganoff. “We had it all made and ready to go,” Lynn said. “That didn’t work out.”

Pepper and Spice owner and chef June Bunlend, 43, said he’d work from 9 to 9 on Christmas.

“It’s OK,” he said with a laugh. “I feel happy to work.” His two sons, ages 5 and 6, played at a table in the background as Bunlend cooked.


A Buddhist, Bunlend said his beliefs do not include a baby born in Bethlehem. His religion focuses on beliefs such as, “If you do good, good things will come back to you,” he said.

Born in Thailand, Bunlend immigrated to the United States 22 years ago. He opened the Lewiston restaurant 11 years ago. This year was the first time he opened for Christmas, he said.

“The economy’s not good. We’re trying to make up for it,” he said.

Brett Sarrazin, who was serving food, said he celebrates Christmas, but this year he isn’t around his family. So he worked.

“People need to eat on Christmas,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who come by themselves. They don’t have a family to celebrate with. I’m happy to be of assistance.”

Cathay Hut Manager Cathy Rousseau said she always works on Christmas. The restaurant has been open for 36 years, making it one of the oldest Asian restaurants around.


She celebrates Christmas with her family in the early morning and opens the restaurant at 11 a.m.

“As soon as you open the doors, they’re coming in,” she said. Big sellers are “pu pu platters galore, sweet and sour chicken, and pork fried rice.”

Even though it’s busy, the restaurant has a festive atmosphere on Christmas.

Patrons are relaxed. The rush is over. “People are in a great mood,” Rousseau said. “How can you not be? It’s Christmas.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: