‘We’re so heartbroken’: Regulars mourn Chinese restaurant matriarch killed in explosion

Regular customers and friends placed flowers in front of the shuttered Main Moon restaurant a day after one of its owners was killed when a large appliance exploded in the kitchen.

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Regular customers and friends placed flowers in front of the shuttered Main Moon restaurant a day after one of its owners was killed when a large appliance exploded in the kitchen.

About 24 hours after a deadly explosion in the kitchen of Main Moon Chinese restaurant in Tucker, flowers were beginning to proliferate the doorway of the darkened storefront.

A procession of regular customers stopped by to pay their respects, many with questions about the tragic accident. Most were eager to share their fondness for the takeout restaurant and the family who runs it.

“They knew us when we came here,” longtime customer Maya Wiseman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Her family became regulars when they lived in nearby Smokerise, and they continue to order from Main Moon on an almost weekly basis despite moving to Stone Mountain.

“We’re so heartbroken,” she said.

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Posted by Main Moon on Saturday, December 26, 2020

Most customers who stopped by had already seen the news about the fatal accident, which involved a large appliance that exploded in the small restaurant’s kitchen.

Lillian Scales, an Atlanta native who visited the restaurant to share her condolences, was the first to ask, “Was it the mother or the daughter-in-law?” As Scales and others gathered in front of the shuttered restaurant, another man who knew the owners joined the group after leaving flowers at the door.

He did not share his name, but said he had communicated with the family on social media and learned that the matriarch died in the accident.

He explained that the restaurant was a family business run by two parents, Ken and Mei, with the help of their son, Jason, and his wife, Min. Several other customers confirmed the man’s description.

The woman was later identified as Mei Ying Chen by the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s Office.

The woman killed in the kitchen explosion at Main Moon Chinese restaurant in Tucker was described by several regular customers as the matriarch of the family who owned the business.

Credit: Henri Hollis

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Credit: Henri Hollis

According to its website, Main Moon opened in 1999. Over the course of more than 20 years, the restaurant has built a committed following. Several customers said they had been regulars for years. Wiseman’s family has been loyal to Main Moon for well over a decade, she said.

“We just ate here on Thursday,” Wiseman said.

Likewise, Scales said she ate at Main Moon often and that they would always ask about each others’ families.

“She was just a tiny little thing,” Scales said of Mei. “She usually worked in the back while her daughter-in-law stayed at the front.”

Several customers noted that the tragedy had struck Main Moon after the longstanding restaurant had survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We panicked during the pandemic because they shut down for a while and revamped so they could follow CDC guidelines,” Wiseman said, pointing out the plastic screen at the service counter and socially distanced booths. “I don’t know what we’ll do now. When it’s Chinese food, I will not eat anywhere else.”

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

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