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Remodeled, But Still The Kong

New Look Chinese Restaurant Promises Changes

Scorpion bowls will still be served in the Square come September.

But when undergraduates return to Harvard in the fall, many other things about the Hong Kong restaurant, a perennial late-night hangout, will look different. After 15 years, the second-floor lounge of the Kong is undergoing renovation, according to manager of the restaurant.

But flood victims will probably notice the change before Harvard students, thanks to a re-opening party scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. All the proceeds of the celebration will be donated to flood relief via the Greater Boston Food Bank, manager Lilly E. Lee said last week.

"I thought of it one night while I was at home and they said on TV that the [flood victims] needed help," she said. "We're going to start at 4:30 and run through 1 a.m."

While there was no absolute need to renovate the lounge, the management felt that a change was needed after 15 years, manager Gerard T. Smith said last week. "There'll be a new hardwood floor, a new bar," Smith said. "Things will be juxta-posted more."

Lee said there will also be more high-top tales to encourage "more socializing."

The renovation will provide another side benefit to the Kong, Lee said.

By making a few more changes, such as adding an exit light, the restaurant will qualify for an entertainment in the fall.

Though the overhaul was not planned in order to procure a permanent license, the restaurant plans to use it to bring in several area and student bands in the fl and winter, Lee said.

A draft beer system will also be added by the fall, and the Kong plans to hold several "study breaks" on Sundays through Wednesdays from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. when free food will be distributed. While Lee said that Kong customers come from "all walks of life," she said that the events slated for the fall are intended to appeal to college students.

After focusing on the new Hong Kongs near Faneuil Hall and in Salem, Mass., the management is turning its attention back to the original location.

"We were not advertising as much because of our reputation," Lee said. "But because other places in the area opened up, we haven't seen as many students recently. In March of this year, we decided it was time to fight back."

Other changes are planned for the future, Smith said.

While the menu will not be altered, he said the management hopes to redo the stairs soon, encasing them with metal and adding rubber tread.

Lee also said that some renovations are being discussed for the first floor and entryway, but that final plans had not been decided on yet. While the inside of the Hong Kong may sport a new look, the outside, for now, has been a sore point with at least one neighbor.

Csilla Jacobson, the owner of Omni Travel, recently wrote to the Hong Kong complaining that the present exterior, with its "shocking pink walls" and "peeling plaster and paint" is "totally out of character with the magnificent surrounding buildings."

Lee said a paint job is in the works. "We will paint the front, but we're not sure what color--even though the customers tell us to keep it pink," she said

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