A new Chinese restaurant opened Wednesday on the Beltline frontage road off Todd Drive where Grand Pagoda used to be.
Sunny Hsu and his wife, Xue Li Yang, had a restaurant of the same name, Dynasty Chinese Food, in the Wisconsin Dells for more than five years, but closed it after a lease dispute.
The restaurant was once voted the No. 1 Chinese restaurant in the Dells during Taste of Wisconsin Dells, an event similar to Taste of Madison.
While the Dynasty in the Dells -- which was next to the Tommy Bartlett Show -- had a lunch buffet, the Madison restaurant, 2705 W. Beltline Highway, does not.
The Madison restaurant is in soft opening mode this week as Hsu tries to hire more employees.
Hsu, who is originally from Taiwan, moved to Oregon state in 1989 and had a restaurant in Klamath Falls by the same name. He had the Oregon restaurant from 1990 to 2013, and closed it after opening the Dells location. He said he couldn't find good managers to keep the Oregon restaurant going.
When he was growing up, his family had restaurants in Taiwan, so he learned to cook at a young age, Hsu said. "When I was young I was learning. It was easy for me."
Hsu trained his head chef in Madison. "I'm a master," he said.
The Madison Dynasty restaurant has the same menu as the one in the Dells, with more than 20 chicken dishes, along with pork, beef, seafood and vegetarian options. There are also appetizers, soup and many egg fu young choices. Lunch specials start at $4.95, with most in the $7 to $8 range.
Hsu said that while the menus are the same, the prices at the Madison restaurant are lower.
"Madison has so much competition," he said. "I just follow them."
Hsu has another location picked out in the Dells, but it needs renovations. He intends to get the Madison restaurant running smoothly before working on the new Dells location.
The couple make their home in the Dells, but Hsu is looking for a place to live in Madison. He would like to put his 8-year-old daughter in a school here. "The Madison schools are better than Wisconsin Dells," he said.
The Beltline location has a long history as a Chinese restaurant. The popular Grand Pagoda was in the spot for 23 years and when it closed in 1995, a Chinese restaurant called Hunan Kitchen took its place.
Later, a Mexican restaurant, Puerto Escondido, failed to make a go of the spot, which was last home to Wisconsin's first Dominican restaurant, Punta Cana. It opened in 2012 and lasted a year. The space has been vacant since.
Hsu did some remodeling and now the white tablecloth restaurant has attractive lighting and yellow and orange walls.
He and his staff wear red T-shirts that say "Sunny says..." on the front, and "Eat more Chinese food..." on the back.