The roots of Kwan's awards for being voted as the "Best Chinese" Restaurant in Salem seven years in a row go back to the dedicated work ethic of Master Chef and Owner Kam Sang Kwan. At age 11, his first restaurant experience was working in a cafe. Around 12 or 13, he decided to learn English to communicate with foreign customers. He quickly became the number one waiter and at age 16, he began booking banquets. At age 17, he transferred to Hong Kong and learned to speak Japanese which helped him rise further in the restaurant business. After a possible job offer to work in San Francisco fell through, he was offered another opportunity to move to the U.S. and work as a chef in an affluent household. "The requirement was a little bit of cooking, but also knowing how to make drinks," Kwan recalls. Both he and his wife Bo carefully thought about the opportunity and he decided to accept the two-year position working for Oregon businessman and author Gerry Frank. Kwan performed his job so well that he was asked to stay for an additional two years.
Kwan started his first restaurant in 1976, known as "Kwan's Kitchen" in Salem's City Hall. The current restaurant building was opened in 1982. It’s architecture resembles a pagoda and the restaurant is a landmark just south of downtown Salem. Besides Kwan's excellent menu and healthy choices, his strong reputation in Salem is also due to his diligent attention to customer care and his community service. He quickly gains the attention of children during classroom visits by de-boning a chicken blindfolded with a meat cleaver, then he delivers a message of ethics and work values to every student.