Dali: That's where it all begins
|Here is the original
Sunshine Cafe in Dali, Yunnan Province, China,
where my son, Kris, started his career as a
| Here is the
outside of the original Salvador's Coffee
House in Dali. This location no longer
|Above and below are the
interior views of the first Salvador's, in Dali.
This restaurant has been closed for three years and
now is located in Kunming.
Well, it all started in Dali, my interest in
Actually, it all started when my son, Kris,
decided to study martial arts in China, and heard about a
martial arts training site called Wu Wei Si, near Dali, in
He decided to save his money and travel there
to study martial arts at this hidden-away temple in Yunnan
Province, China, near Dali. He saved enough to stay for six
months, but as fortune would have it, he became a restaurateur
He studied at the temple during the week, and
on the weekends, Kris would go into town, into Dali, and found
the Sunshine Cafe, where he became friends with the girls who
worked there. He helped them out with painting the walls and
other miscellaneous jobs, and as I remember the story, the
young woman who was managing the cafe wanted to go away to
school, thus leaving an opening at the cafe.
When the owner stopped by and saw Kris
speaking with the foreigners in English and perhaps leading
them to buy a little more drink, a little more food, he saw
dollar signs, and decided to offer Kris the management job.
Mind you, Kris had been in China only a few
months, barely spoke the language, and had no restaurant
experience. Nevertheless, he accepted the job, and with the
constant help of his employees, was successful in this exotic
He changed the menu, offering Western-style
food and teaching the girls how to cook it. He updated the
decor a bit and began to teach the girls English;
he encouraged them to smile and interact with the
customers rather than hiding in the shadows.
After his two-year stint at Sunshine, Kris and
a friend, Colin Flahive, opened Salvador's Coffee
House (Salvador's, in Dali -- get it?), around the corner. They
purchased an expensive coffee machine from Italy, and offered
gourmet ice cream and brownies, as well.
Salvador's became a favorite hangout for young
tourists, with a Starbuck's-type coffee menu and an ultra
Kris and his friend Colin put an enormous
amount of work into their new venture, but alas, Dali was in
the midst of expansion ... or at least their landlord was, and
Salvador's and other enterprises on that street were torn down
to make room for their landlord's other business
But Salvador's would rise again in Yunnan
Province, in the capital city, Kunming, where it is thriving.
At the new Salvador's Coffee House in Kunming, they
turn away visitors every day.