The little strip center at 80th and State Line Road hasn't been so lucky in keeping restaurants as tenants. The last operation in the space at 8017 State Line was the Pizza Oven, which was in business for two years before the owners — Kevin and Chris Ferrel — closed it in June. Prior to the Pizza Oven, this venue was the home to two Philly Cheesesteak joints an a short-lived Korean restaurant.
But the Lin family, who opened Rainbow China in the old Pizza Oven space on November 1, feels more optimistic about success. The new QuikTrip store next door has proved to be a boon for this restaurant's carryout business. And although there are several fast-food dining options on this stretch of State Line — including a Panda Express — Lilly Lin, who runs the restaurant with her parents, Cindy and David, says they've priced the dishes at Rainbow China competitively and are offering both Chinese-American meals (General Tso's chicken, orange beef, coconut shrimp) and more traditional Hunan and Szechuan choices.
The Lins have done a complete renovation of the storefront space (including eliminating the giant pizza painted on the concrete floor), painting the interior a pale shade of lavender and installing a refrigerated soda-pop machine — this restaurant is alcohol-free — and one of those illuminated photo menu signs above the counter that depicts 12 of the restaurant's top sellers, like sweet-and-sour chicken and pepper steak. Many of those dishes come with P.F.R. I had to ask what that was. "Pork fried rice," said Lilly, looking at me as if I had just arrived from Mars. Doesn't everyone know what P.F.R. means?
I do now. Still, I chose regular old fried rice with my jalapeno chicken, a tasty Mexi-Asian innovation that probably would have been better in a flour tortilla than spooned over rice. Diners can eat in the small dining room or take their orders home. Just remember to rub the belly of the shiny golden Buddha statue — a jolly icon dripping with gilt coins — on the front counter before leaving. "It's good luck," one of the employees told me. It hasn't worked yet for me, but I'm hoping it will bring some much-needed good fortune to Rainbow China.