So Long, Old Kong. We Will Miss Thine Venerable Decrepitude.

Unnamed photo
David I. Fulton-Howard

The Kong, renovated out of decrepitude.

We’ve all had an old pair of sneakers that, despite being shabby and worn out, we can’t imagine replacing. But then, all of a sudden, we come home to find Mom tossed out the relic and put a newer, more fashionable pair in its place. Sure, they’re great shoes, admittedly nicer than their predecessor, but they just don’t fit the same.

So it goes with The Hong Kong, one of the Square’s most treasured institutions. Harvard students returned to campus this year to discover that its first floor restaurant had experienced a complete makeover, going from tacky to tasteful.

Paul Lee, president of The Kong, says, “We hadn’t done any renovations in a while, so it was time for an update.”

It now boasts spotless wooden floors, polished tables and chairs and Starbucks-esque light fixtures, not to mention a bar with frosted glass cabinets, and a flat screen TV.

For many, The Kong’s grungy interior was as defining a feature as its faux-Asian facade.

“The new look reminds me of the lobby of a 5-star hotel, which is just so not Kong-esque,” says Natalie M. Curtis ’08. “I’ll always get late night there, but I don’t like to see change in Harvard’s staples.”

Evelyn Lee, assistant manager at The Kong, has encountered similar reactions. “All the students say, ‘You can’t change it, the Kong is an icon as it is,’” says Lee. “But I say how long can an icon last? It has to change somehow sometime.”

While older generations may look at this classy Kong with a pang of nostalgia, the freshmen know nothing else. They will continue to lose fake IDs at the door, drink Scorpion Bowls until they black out, and devour scallion pancakes at 2 a.m. in blissful ignorance of the dive it once was.