March 12, 2013

Longtime Portland eatery to close

The Oriental Table on Exchange Street is expected to close at the end of March, its owner has said.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

and Matt Byrne
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A longtime Portland restaurant is closing its doors at the end of the month, and its future is uncertain.

click image to enlarge

In this October 2010 file photo, Monday, a portrait of Yan Lam, owner of the Oriental Table at 106 Exchange St. in Portland. The longtime local eatery is closing its doors at the end of the month, and its future is uncertain.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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The Oriental Table at 106 Exchange St., open since 1995, has been popular with the Old Port business lunch crowd and Merrill Auditorium patrons who want to grab a bite of dinner before a concert.

But the restaurant’s owner, Yan Lam, said a series of frustrating disputes with his landlord is forcing him to shut the restaurant down. He’s not sure if he will re-open somewhere else.

“I’d love to, but right now I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll wait until I wrap up here first, and then I’ll see what I can do.”

Lam is a Vietnamese refugee who became a U.S. citizen in 1985.

His landlord, Joe Palacci, who operates an electronics shop next door, said he was perplexed by suggestions of a disagreement, and added that that Lam's decision to leave was unexpected.

"We've been more than fair to him all along," Palacci said.

Lam, meanwhile, said customers have been understanding, but sad, about his situation.

“Everybody feels so bad,” Lam said. “Everybody feels so sorry. Other people have given me their name and phone number. If I do re-open, they ask me to contact them."

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