At ten years old, Sheree Yu immigrated with her family from Taiwan. Originally in Tennessee, Her family established a restaurant but decided to sell and move to California in order to make flights back home to Taiwan shorter. Her father left to scope things out in California and when he returned, he told her that there was a change of plans. They were moving to Utah. He had visited a friend here and found this to be a great place to raise a family. They opened Maple Gardens in Ogden in 1981. Sheree grew up helping in the restaurant and loved learning from her parents how to run it. She grew up and went her own way, leaving the restaurant to her parents and eventually her siblings to run. She even made an attempt at opening her own restaurant in Clearfield that didn’t make it. She credits that failure as a powerful learning experience for her and an important part of her journey.
When she read on Facebook that her family was planning to close the restaurant, she had the dream that someday she would reopen the family restaurant Maple Gardens again. It took her 12 years to fulfill that dream.
She continued to work in the restaurant industry during that time and helped a friend open a sandwich shop. She had planned to become one of his first franchises and was running his Ogden location. She remembers there was a photo of the Union Station in the store and she would often look at that picture and imagine herself opening Maple Gardens in the restaurant space within the station. While this was the goal, she didn’t feel as though the timing was right. She didn’t have the savings she needed and she wasn’t sure if she could make it happen.
One day, she was driving to work and was in a serious car accident. Though she was ok, the accident made her realize that now was the perfect time to go after her dream. She didn’t want to wait for some unknown future time, she wanted to open her family’s restaurant again. She talked to her dad and got his support and was able to work with Ogden City to get a loan and open her restaurant. It was not easy; she worked for nearly a year on getting the location up and running and opened the new Maple Gardens in December 2019.
Known for very fresh, never frozen food, their most popular dish is Szechuan Chicken. When asked what is in the recipe, she says, “It’s an ancient Chinese secret; if I told you, I would have to kill you!” With the help of family friend, Joe, her kitchen manager, Migo Wang, and her cousin, Hsainyang, they each helped Sheree make a 12 year dream become reality.