Purple Feather Café and Treatery
Hong Ting Wong (b ±1898) stands out among the most interesting of that wonderful local species, the artist-restaurateur. He studied under Charles W. Hawthorne and was said to have been a promising pupil. Though life took him in another direction, he was still showing his paintings in his first restaurant, the Cape Cod Tea Garden, at 327 Commercial. His second restaurant, Wong’s Cozy Den Coffee Shop, was at 347 Commercial. On returning from World War II, he opened his chef-d’oeuvre, Wong’s Restaurant.
At the time, in the summer of 1945, this building was still known as the old John McCoy house. Wong worked with the contractor Jimmy Perry and the artist Gilbert Livesey to create what sounds like a conceptually sophisticated restaurant: authentic Chinese food served in a restrained neo-Colonial setting. At a time when “Chinese” meant “chow mein” or “egg foo young,” and “Oriental” décor inevitably involved broad swatches of jade green, florid dragons, dim paper lampshades and mock-Chinese typefaces on the menu, Wong’s must truly have stood out. The Advocate certainly thought so. (“Restaurant Wins Applause of Many,” The Advocate, 7 June 1945.)
There are many attractive dining rooms on Cape Cod but it is to be questioned whether there is any in more quiet good taste than that which the Wong-Perry combination has created. The colonial atmosphere of the old house has not only been preserved but has been accentuated, and quiet, chaste simplicity marks the high-ceilinged dining room, amply lighted by day by many windows and by night by colonial fixtures.
To build the new dining room and the spacious kitchen in the rear it was necessary to tear out the lower floor and a considerable part of the second. A section along the Freeman Street side was added to be used as a private dining room for special functions and a colonial portico at the front entrance, with red brick steps, bears the simple name, “Wong’s.” … The best of good taste marks the whole affair.
In the early 1960s, perhaps to perpetuate the memory of Wong’s, Lenore Ross opened the Ho Hum Chinese-American Restaurant, serving “authentic Cantonese and Shanghai dishes.” By 1965, Ross’s restaurant was renamed the Plain & Fancy. Patricia Shultz was hired at about this time to work in the kitchen. “She came to cook and two days later we fell in love,” Ross was to recall many years later. (“Pat Shultz Dies at 78,” The Banner, 14 August 2008.) Ross and Shultz operated the Plain & Fancy until 1975, when they went into the real estate business.
The Purple Feather is the outgrowth of Ann and Peter Okun’s Broken Wheel Farm chocolate and gift store and Christmas tree farm in Dracut, Mass. They opened a homemade chocolate shop in Provincetown in ±2005 and, flush with success, moved to much large quarters at 334 Commercial Street in ±2008, where they also expanded their offerings to homemade gelato and lunch service. For the record, the name of the bear at the entrance is Furple.
CASAS, the Carrie A. Seaman Animal Shelter, was here through 2007, when it moved to 5 Sandy Hill Lane. ¶ Updated 2013-08-25
My parents ate at Wong’s every day when staying at the Pilgrim House on their honeymoon in 1946 .. I was going through some old photos and decided to look it up to see if it was still standing ..