David Yu oral history interview, 2018-03-25

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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MARIAN LIOU: My name is Marian Liou and I'm interviewing David Yu for We Love BuHi's Buford Highway Oral History project. The date is March 25, 2018, and the interview is taking place in Atlanta. So, can you start us off with just, you know, bring us up to this point? How did you get here?

DAVID YU: How did I get here?

LIOU: Yeah. How did you get to this point where you are now?

YU: Well, I came to Atlanta in 1974. Primary for to get my MBA at Georgia State. That's why I came down here. Then after I got my MBA, I stayed and working for the Comptroller Currency as a bank examiner and then I after three-and-a-half, four years, I left there then went to North Georgia College. Taught about three 00:01:00quarters up in Dahlonega. Then I figured out there's not much money in teaching so I came down here, went to work for First Atlanta for about two years, then went to CNS [sic] -- Citizens and Southern National Bank -- for about three years. Then when group of investors get together, thinking about building a Chinatown in '86, I believe. Then I work in the -- Since I was in the banking at that time, people were thinking about organizing a bank. So, I said since I've been here since '74, if I don't -- also into banking -- if I don't get involved, then it's really shame on me. So, I got involved and start organizing a bank and that was -- We start organizing the Summit National Bank in 1987. And we raised 00:02:00the capital and opened bank in 1988. And we basically targeted the Buford Highway area. So, our head office was on Chamblee Dunwoody Road and 285, then our branch was in Chinatown, initially. And then we see the growth of Asian community in that area really from the '80s.

LIOU: Can you --

YU: But before that the Asian community really started -- When I came to Atlanta in 1974, there's only a handful of students not that many people. Most are students and professors. Most of the students are at Georgia Tech. There's a few of us at Georgia State and even fewer at Emory. Same thing with the professors. Most professors are at the -- were at the -- Georgia Tech and some at Georgia State and a few at the Emory. At that time, there's not many Chinese restaurants 00:03:00so mostly the House of Eng was at 5th Street and Peachtree, and it was an old Cantonese Restaurant and not many restaurant run by the people from Taiwan or Hong Kong or Chinese-Koreans at that time.

LIOU: Can you start -- How did you get to Georgia State? How did you hear about Georgia State University?

YU: Oh, I went to -- Well, first off, I came to United States in 1970. We were stayed in Arlington, VA. At that time, excuse me, I was about twenty-years-old. I didn't -- Just able to just get in to a community college. [Unintelligible] community college I got my associate degree, transferred to Virginia 00:04:00Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. After I got my B.S. degree, talked to one of my professors, expressed my interest in International Business, he said, "Why don't you got to Georgia State?" He got his DBA from Georgia State so he introduced me down to his old professor at Georgia State and then I came down here, liked it and then I applied. Got admitted. So --

LIOU: What were the conditions that encouraged you to come to the United States from your home country?

YU: Well, I couldn't pass the entrance examination to get in to the University, twice. So, I said, might as well come to the United States. Yeah, that's okay. Because my parents, my mother was a nurse. She went to Libya on the United Nations Medical Assistant Program to Libya. That was before Gadhafi took over the country. So, she was actually the special nurse for the Princess. Then 00:05:00Gadhafi came to power when she was there and at the same time, I think, the U.S. immigration policy liberalized in the '60s. So, all of a sudden they opened up the quota for people from Taiwan from almost like a couple thousand to like twenty thousand a year. So, she was able to get on the first wave to get a permanent resident Visa to the United States then she just brought the whole family over to the United States.

LIOU: You mentioned that you mother was a nurse in Libya. Did Libya at that time have a special relationship with Taiwan?

YU: Oh, yeah. That had a diplomatic relationship and there was under the United Nations Program they organized the -- They send the doctors and nurses to Libya 00:06:00to help out. At Smyrna, there was quite a few people here -- more in the United States, actually -- because of that. They went to the parents, went to Libya, then also followed my mother suit and get the permanent residence and moved to United States.

LIOU: Was there a connection? What was the connection? Can you describe the connection between Taiwan and the United States then that made it possible for people to come from Taiwan to the United States?

YU: At that time, Taiwan and the United States we had a diplomatic relationship that was before 1979 when they break up the U.S. relationship. So, my mother actually applied for the -- to the VISA. It was a three-year term and she has a -- After two years, you can go on home leave. So, she went to, I think, she 00:07:00applied for and went back to Taiwan and told us about it. Then, she came back, finished her term. She, at that time, she hasn't got her permanent VISA, yet. So, she went to Europe working there, temporarily, until she got a VISA, then came to the United States. And I think she also before that she also talked to the George Washington University Hospital about a position in the hospital. So, that also happened. So, she got a job at the George Washington University Hospital.

LIOU: When you came here to the United States -- So, your mom was able to, through family immigration, bring your family here? Can you describe the family 00:08:00members that did come? And then when you came here what was the environment that you found?

YU: Well, my dad, you know, my dad came and also got three brothers, and one sister. So, I'm the oldest and my sister is the youngest. We're about twelve years apart. And she has a tough time because she was in first grade when she came to the United States. Her English -- She doesn't know anything about English. Doesn't barely understand Chinese. So, she has a tough time to adjust. But, she graduated from UVA and also got a Master's from Stanford. So, she was the best. So, anyway, and all five of us all got a Master's degree. And I guess we're most of us -- I got two, three of us, are early retired. And my younger brother is still working and my sister is still working. So --


LIOU: What was the environment like when you arrived in Georgia? What had you heard about? Did you know anything about Georgia before you arrived?

YU: Actually, it's -- I heard about Georgia before I even come to the United States. Because my dad was in the Army. After World War II, he was one of the first group who came to the United States, went to Fort Benning, went to the Infantry School. So, yeah, I know about Georgia way before that. Even before -- And also Gone with the Wind was popular so we know about the Georgia. And, also, during the Olympics, my dad came down here and we got tickets to, I think, Women's softball game. I think it was between Taiwan and China and played in Columbus, Georgia. So, I took my dad down there and after the game, I took him to the Fort Benning. It was about almost fifty years after he had been there so 00:10:00it was quite emotional because a lot of his classmates already passed. I told him, I said, "Dad, you should be lucky, you're still around." Yeah, it's quite emotional for him to go, actually, to go to the Fort Benning and see the Jumping Tower, all the everything else, so.

LIOU: What was it like for him to have come when he did in the 1940s? What was he experiencing?

YU: At that time, it was just after World War II and he didn't -- Well, he wasn't admitted to [unintelligible] academy so he had to study English on his own. And he passed the exam and came to the United States. So, after this, he came twice. Two more times to the United States and later, in his military 00:11:00career, he was primarily dealing with the U.S. Military as a liaison.

LIOU: And then -- So, when you arrived then, and going to school in Georgia, what was -- Can you describe that experience at Georgia State University? Did it -- And you said there was very few restaurants?

YU: Well, the reason I couldn't pass the entrance exam was I had a lot of fun. So, I didn't study that hard. So, anyway. So, I went to VCU, I mean, that was the first time I stayed in a dorm. So, I was a little older than the average student so I fit right in. Because I had a good grade, I knew how to play, I knew how to drink. So, I had a good time. So, what can I say? I really had a 00:12:00good time. And that's the really -- At VCU, there's also very few Chinese students. There's a handful, I think, probably four or five Chinese students from Taiwan, from Malaysia. From Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and we were there. So, we still maintained relations. Close contact with couple of them still in Richmond. And, since I stayed in the dorms, that's really the introduction of me to the American culture because a lot of students from all over the United States and some from the Washington, D.C. area. Some are from the rural Virginia. So, that's how I get to know the American culture and plus it was a pretty liberal school. It was a Richmond professional institute later merged with the Medical College of Virginia become Virginia Commonwealth University. 00:13:00So, there's a lot of art students. So, they're pretty liberal and that was my introduction to the queer or gay because a couple of them stayed in the dorm and on weekend they just all dressed up and limo came and picked them up. So, I said, "Oh, okay."

LIOU: Can you describe a moment, an experience or memory when you knew you were going to be here for the rest of your life?

YU: I didn't expect to be here that long but things happened. So, I kind of stayed because at that time I was thinking about getting a degree in International Business working for a major bank and be able to post overseas but that never happened. And when I got my MBA from Georgia State, it was a pretty depressing time. It was in '75. It was -- The economy was just like the Great 00:14:00Recession we had. So, it was tough to find a job. So, it took me a while to find a job at the Comptroller Currency at the U.S. Treasury. At that time, I happened to apply for the Atlanta Region and they opened up a position so I was able to get it here. So, and then it's mostly domestic. I was able to get involved in some international travel when I was a bank examiner. So, I went to Taiwan, Hong Kong, London and Milan. So, then I got a job at First Atlanta CNS. It's all domestic. So, nothing. So, just stayed.

LIOU: Can you think about and tell us like why -- What it was about you 00:15:00specifically that you were able to develop this long, successful career?

YU: Well, it's -- Actually, it's kind of interesting. At that time, I was thinking about working for a big bank and just work till I retire. And when opportunity happens, I think it's just, basically, whether you want to grab it or not. So, it happened. So, I jump on it and with the help of a lot of people -- both from the Chinese community as well as the mainstream community -- and make that happen. So, and interestingly enough we kind of involving the development of the Buford Highway Doraville area. Chamblee-Doraville area because at that time it was really downhill because the GM plant was going 00:16:00downhill and so it was going downhill. It was a blue collar community. This was both Doraville and Chamblee. So, there's was really nothing there. I mean, then the Chinese community moving and bring the other Asian community into the area.

LIOU: What was the first moment, the first -- When you say the Chinese community moved in, can you pinpoint that time?

YU: Oh, I can tell you. I mean, it was -- If you go to the Chamblee Tucker and -- What was that street? The Royal China Restaurant. Before Royal China it was called Honto. It was -- Honto Restaurant was kind of key. It's because they opened up and served very good food. So, people are going there. Before that, we was kind of near the Churchill Bridge area. It was -- We got quite a few Chinese 00:17:00restaurant opened up in the Churchill Bridge area and we sat at the [unintelligible] theater as another guy was showing the Chinese movie on weeknight. I mean, when a theater was closed at probably midnight, they start showing Chinese movie. So, that was an area people are thinking about maybe that can be developing into Chinatown but it was pretty limited. It's not too much space for expansion in the community and traffic is not that great because the congestion. So, it never happened. You got the Golden Tour over there. The [unintelligible] China where they -- They were all there in the shopping center. So, that was the original area people were thinking about it. Then, when 00:18:00Hemphill (?) happened, people moved, stopped going, came to Chamblee. Then group of investors started thinking about the Chinatown. They acquired the land and build the Chinatown Shopping Center. In the meantime, they decided to donate a piece of land to the Chinese Community Center. Because Community Center was located in Northlake in a warehouse. So, the Community Center was built like a warehouse because it's multi-purpose use. Gave us the land, we were able to -- The Taiwanese government was able to secure the financing to build. We tried to raise money. We couldn't. We couldn't raise enough money to do it. So, basically, I think the government they did it and that was kind of the first Community Center that was built not only in the United States but all over the world. And that became the model. After that, more centers was built or acquired 00:19:00in other cities. So, we're kind of pioneers.

LIOU: When you say we, who is we?

YU: Oh, there's a lot of us. Because, when we in the -- When I came here in '74, '75, the only students -- So, every year there's a lot of students from Taiwan come here. So, we kind of organized to taking care of them. So, initially, we put, we put them with other students in the dorm or in the room, but it's not practical. So, finally, we able to rent abandoned school on North Highland. That's near Georgia Tech. Okay? So, we bought a lot of mattresses, put on the 00:20:00floor and when they come, they just stayed there for a few month and when they able to find apartment, they move out and that become the genesis of the community center. So, from there you got people coming here and also on the holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas. The student, they have no place to go so we have Hot Pot Party. And that's how we get started. Then from there, we also got a school at the Howard Mill near the Humane Society. We went over, painted the city and take it back, then we went to Northlake and rent the warehouse. And because we needed space, we building from the classroom to teach our kids 00:21:00Chinese. Then other activities follows. I mean the dancing, the whatever followed.

LIOU: What was the moment that you said, "Wow, I'm part of the Chinese community here. I'm building and supporting the Chinese community?" Like was there a time when it became a thing? Or was it just very organic?

YU: Well, I think in the '80s there's a lot more Chinese immigrant coming to the United States and also into the Atlanta area. So, it's kind of natural. When I was at CNS I always got questioned from the branches about people that don't speak English and need some help in translation, that sounds like me. Maybe there's a market for the ethnic bank? But at that time I know Chinese alone is 00:22:00not big enough market, so we just expanded out to cover all ethnic communities.

LIOU: What was there when people were searching for the services of an Asian bank? What were their biggest concerns?

YU: Biggest concern?

LIOU: Yeah, what were their biggest concerns that were not being me by standard banks? How did you identify that as an opportunity?

YU: No. I guess, when people talk about discrimination in the south. Personally, I don't feel it. I guess in university, in college, I was basically been the 00:23:00minority always. And so I get to know the American pretty well. I know the culture. I know the custom and everything. So, when I went to work for the Comptroller Currency, the banks, I don't feel like I'm on the outside. I'm just one of them. And when I start organizing the bank I had to sell it, sell the concept, and most people I talk to is the mainstream people. And they liked the idea. They say okay. That's how we got started. So, I don't know. So, these -- I 00:24:00guess the moment maybe it's when the group investors think about organizing a Chinatown, and then people brought up the idea about a bank, then I said maybe there's a market for it. And that's how we got started.

LIOU: Were you proven correct?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: Were you proven correct in your hunch that there was a market?

YU: Well, it's interesting because we were talking to some old-timers here. In the '80s, there was a lot of entrepreneurs. You know, whether it's in the Korean community or the Chinese community, people open up new businesses constantly, all the time. Not just in Buford Highway but throughout the city. And now it's 00:25:00not that much activities. Even you got -- We had a lot more people from mainland China. They are professional people, they're working for the big company, the UPS, the Coke -- but no entrepreneurs. They don't open up new businesses, they don't open up import-export businesses. It's kind of interesting that the thing has stopped. I think the Korean community, it's probably very similar. You have a lot of businesses open up in the '80s. Now it's just a restaurant. You don't have a lot of new business opening up. Why? I have no idea. But at that time we know there are a lot of small businesses opening up. Because we know the ethnic community. There is a lot of entrepreneurs so they need banks to cater to the 00:26:00small business. That's what we do. We specialize in S-B lending, we specialize in international banking, we specialize in ethnic banking. The common denominator among all groups -- meaning Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hispanic -- is small business. They all want to own their business. And that's how we provided the banking service for them.

LIOU: You said you don't know the reason why there's less entrepreneurial activity, but can you make some guesses?

YU: [Unintelligible] opportunity, I guess. It clicks. I said let's do it. So, it's fun.

LIOU: What makes it so fun?


YU: Well, it's -- I guess the first two banks I work with were big banks: the First Atlanta and then the CNS. And you don't get involved in the community. But being a small community bank, you are very much involved in the community and you are part of the community. So, you can see the people that you help. They're growing and getting bigger, and that's really gratifying. So it's -- When you go visit them they really appreciate it. You help them, they remember forever.

LIOU: Is there one entrepreneur that you helped that you will remember forever?

YU: What?

LIOU: Is there one entrepreneur that you helped that you will remember forever?

YU: Well, there's one company we started with Sunrise Importer. It's run by a 00:28:00lady, Samantha, we gave her first loan, $50,000, a second mortgage. Now they're multi-millionaire company. They supply to Rooms to Go, and there's another company they supply there. They had a factory in China then it was too much hassle. They sold it. They just buy it from China. They're growing pretty big. And there's another seafood import, A&D. They just exploded. They're huge. So, there are quite a few companies that are big. Not just the Asian, but also the Ismaili community. One of our directors of the Ismaili community, so we help them. Now you go to a lot of the convenience store owned by primarily Ismaili 00:29:00communities. We financed a lot of them. So, we've -- There are quite a few big guys on the community. It all started with $56,000 loan when they acquired their first convenience store.

LIOU: How did the word spread? How did it go from Asian communities to the Hispanic communities?

YU: We look at our business at that time -- I was talking to somebody. Back in the '80s, we cannot expand branches across the county line. So, you cross county line, you had to buy a bank or set up a bank in that county. So, in the late '89 00:30:00to '90, the Vinings Bank and Trust in Cobb County, they had problems so we acquired them and were able to establish a presence in Cobb County. They were targeted to be a private banking. So, you walk in the facility and it's more like JPMorgan-type. It's very high end. So, we just moved our private banking department over there. That's primarily catered to the German clientele. They serve a lot of German. There's a big German contingency in Atlanta and also a lot of people in Germany -- they maintain accounts with us at that time. So, and then we, let's see in Georgia that's the only bank we acquired. Then later they opened up so we could expand into other adjacent counties. Went to, well, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett. Were we in Fulton? We were 00:31:00never in Fulton. So, we got about five branches in that area. Then when we organized the bank we issued some warrants to attract initial investors and they all due in 1998. So, we got additional $6 million capital coming and we needed to deploy it. And we were looking to acquire banks in the Atlanta area and there's not many banks available for sale. So, we think about where more demographic focus rather than geographic focus. So, well, let's look elsewhere in the United States. So we look at California. So we bought a bank in San Jose, California that was before Bank America -- Nations Bank bought Bank of America about two weeks before that. So, we were the first one that went out to the West Coast. So, we bought a bank in San Jose, California and a couple of years later 00:32:00we opened a branch in Fremont. And then in 2005, we went to a Chinese Bankers Conference in Houston. And at the preliminary meeting, this one gentleman came over and said, "Hey, where are you from?" I said, "I'm from Atlanta." He said, "Which bank?" And I said, "Summit National Bank." And he said, "Do you want to buy my bank?" I said, "I don't know you. Which bank are you talking about?" So, he said, "Well, don't forget about me." And he said, "Come to my office tomorrow and we'll talk about it." So, we end up bought the bank in Houston. At that time, it's a much bigger transaction and he wants cash, all cash deal, no stocks. So, the regulator just said, "You cannot leverage up." We had to raise additional capital. So, I had to go to Wall Street and do a secondary offering. 00:33:00We raised about $20 million. And six months later, we can offer, an offer we cannot refuse so we sold the bank in six months. So, I made a lot of the Wall Street people very happy. That made them a 50 percent return in six months. So, that's when we sold the bank in 2006. I stayed on for a couple more years and then decided to retire in 2009.

LIOU: What is the role of the bank in these ethnic communities, whether it's in Texas or in San Jose and Fremont?

YU: Well, if you think about, the bank is because we're located. Initially, we were in Chinatown. Then we bought our building on Buford Highway. Buford and Shallowford. Okay, that's now the East West. We were the first ones over there and because we're providing the financing for a lot of entrepreneurs for them to 00:34:00open up. When they opened up, they -- We got their deposit and they bring their family members, relatives over to open account deposits. So, when you look at the -- On Buford Highway, when we got there, there's not many businesses there. I mean, the shopping center is dying. The -- Not many Chinese restaurants, not many Korean restaurants, almost nothing. Then, because we were there, we caused the -- I don't know if came IC came first or the Georgia Commerce Bank came first. Anyway, so, two other banks followed suit. They organized, they opened it, closing on Buford Highway. So, because you got banking there you're able to provide financing for a lot of the businesses. That's why all of a sudden the businesses are booming along Buford Highway. Just from Clairmont, all the way up 00:35:00to, I guess, Jimmy Carter. I mean, you look at all the businesses we were involved in it.

LIOU: What was the reaction, or what was the response from businesses that had been before? Was it --

YU: There was not many businesses were there before. I mean, when you look at all, the shopping center there, you got quite a few new shopping centers because over there they were able to because they see the business opportunities. They develop a plan and build it. The shopping center -- the Asian Square -- quite a few shopping centers because of us. We were there. And the old shopping centers, they were dying. I mean they lost -- I mean, the prime example was the Food Terminal. The shopping center behind the City Market, 00:36:00it was a Treasure Island. You're probably too old to remember Treasure Island. I think one of the JC Penney outlet-type. It's really -- It just went out of business and nobody take over it. Then they just turn it into a flea market. Now, it's reborn. Let me see, the Plaza Fiesta was dying. It was all mainstream serving primarily blue collar. Then a couple of investors saw the opportunity. They bought it and turned it into an Hispanic Shopping Center. It's what we called the "Latino Phipps." So, I think, because the bank, we were able to generate a lot of interest in the area. And then, then one fed into each other 00:37:00because you got more businesses opened up, you got more banks opened up and they just keep on rolling.

LIOU: When you said earlier that the bank, when the bank that serves small businesses is --

YU: Um-hmn.

LIOU: -- serves the community and is a part of the community, was the bank also invested in the economic community or like in the local chambers?

YU: Oh, we were very much involved in the Chamber. At that time, Chamblee doesn't have any Chamber of Commerce. We were involved in DeKalb Chamber then later DeKalb merged into metro Atlanta Chamber and I was on the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and I encouraged all the officers, all the staff involved in the local -- whether it's the Chamber or any kind of business, any kind of 00:38:00activity -- they were involved. And the Dragon Boat. We were the first one to sponsor when Gene Hanratty come to the Hong Kong Association, came to us, wanted us to help them to get the Dragon Boat Festival started and we went to Stone Mountain. That's how we get started the year Dragon Boat racing in Stone Mountain. That later moved to Lake Lanier. It was wooden boat. It was heavy. It's leaking. So, you got eighteen rowers, one drummer, one steerer and also extra one to bail the water out. So, yeah. So, we were very much involved in the community because we recognized we are a community bank. We have to be involved in the community. And we have helped not just the Chinese community, the Korean community, the Korean Grocers Association, the Malaysia Association. I mean, you name it, we gave money to everybody.


LIOU: Is that level of cross-cultural support? Do you think that was more necessary here in Atlanta?

YU: We were the novelty. Because we hired staff. It's all multi-ethnic. So, they want to do well for their community and they proudly represent the bank that can serve in that community. So, yeah, I mean. We, in fact, in the -- For the SB lending, we were number one for five years in a row when we first opened and started up. And then the other banks start catching up. Like ITT and GE Capital, they start catching up. They start making deals. We were there for about five years as number one and we were number two international banker, second only to 00:40:00SunTrust in Atlanta. So, people think of getting international expertise chances are they call us. It's easier to talk to us than talk to SunTrust.

LIOU: How had you developed the international expertise in-house?

YU: Well, we just hired the right people and get the resources.

LIOU: Was it family connection, professional connections?

YU: No, no, no. Just, just -- When we first organized the bank, when we would say international, it's one piece of the market we wanted to target. So, we hired the people and we just helped nurture the business and a lot of the small businesses they want to get into international business. That's how we get started. So, I mean, in the community we see a lot of people coming in, wanting to open a business, chances are this is involving importing or exporting.


LIOU: So, I'm going to pivot a little bit to something more personal. Can I ask you who were the most important people who shaped you to become who are today?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: Who were the people in your life, whether it's family, or professionally? Can you name two people who have really shaped you to become the person you are today?

YU: I think everybody got involved. Contributed some, one way or the other. I think my wife helped a lot. She encouraged me, provided a -- Because at that time when we want to organize the bank, we had to take a pay cut for about a year so she was the primary breadwinner for the family and taking care of the kids. So, yeah, I mean, she's the one that helped, encouraged me to get started. The others, I mean -- Yeah, there's so many people involved in just offering 00:42:00encouragement. Both in the community and in the Chinese community as well as in the mainstream community. Because when I talked to the initial investors, not all in the Chinese community. We got Nack Paek. I don't know if you know him or not? He's the Chair of the Metro City. I mean we talked with him. He was involved in it. And Jack Halpern, he owns, one of the largest -- a lot of the shopping centers along Buford Highway. And he put money into it. So, yeah, we talked to all kinds of people and they all invest. We gave them. It would also pay them back pretty well.

LIOU: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Jack Halpern?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: Can you talk a little bit more about your relationship with Jack Halpern because Jack Halpern has been, um --


YU: I didn't know him. Because one of the initial organizers heard about him. We made appointment and went to see him. Made a presentation and then he said, "Yeah. Sounds like good ideas." And as a matter of fact, when we --When I did a capital campaign for international village, the Sheltering Arm Daycare right at the corner of new Peachtree and Chamblee-Tucker something. Chamblee Dunwoody something Dunwoody. Initially, Mr. Chamblee tried to get somebody to do it and I was involved in the preliminary level and talked to the United Way. Tried to get things going and couldn't find a chair for the capital campaign. So, finally, the United Way Chairman or the CEO, it's like "David, what are you doing?" I 00:44:00said, "What do you mean, I never done it before." He's like, "You can do it." I said. So, I reluctantly took over as the chair for the capital campaign. And, from there, I know the bank has to make a commitment so the bank committed $100,000. Then I went to Jack Halpern and I said, "Jack, would you do it because it's right in your neighborhood?" He did it. Contributed $100,000. That's how we got started. Then this one guy -- His wife is very passionate talk about the Hispanic community and they committed half million dollars and we were able to get a match from, I think, United Way or Woodrow Foundation. So, anyway, we were 00:45:00able to raise the money and build a center.

LIOU: Which Center? So, can you talk a little bit more about International Village? The dream of International Village.

YU: You know Chinatown? There's a new Peachtree Road. There's a Chamblee Dunwoody Road. Here's the Chinatown at this corner there's a kind of colorful building. It was the Sheltering Arm. It provided the childcare for the low, moderate income family. And we raised money to build that building. The city of Chamblee gave the land. We raised the money to build the building.

LIOU: But then in the larger concept of International Village -- So, this was going to be a centerpiece for the larger International Village? Or?

YU: Yes. It was supposedly that land -- It was built with the Sheltering Arm piece, then supposed to build other buildings in the vacant playground. But we 00:46:00could never get that going. So, we just said forget it because -- So, the City of Chamblee just put a park there, a playground for the kids. Which is fine.

LIOU: When you were describing how there were different financing pieces coming from different members of the community. Like in the Buford Highway Area --

YU: Um-hmn.

LIOU: Are there other projects that you know of where there's multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural coalition coming together to support a vision?

YU: Support of business?

LIOU: Or support a project? Support some vision for the community? Is there anything else that you're aware of?

YU: Not really. I mean. First I see, first thing is the Intercontinental Bank. It's 100 percent Korean. Global Commerce is you initially got some Korean investors like Sonny Park was involved in it then they, I mean, he was -- It 00:47:00didn't work out. So, later on, just pure Taiwanese, Chinese. In Metro City, they-- Nack Paek got some Chinese money involved from the Chinese community. But probably a lot of people think it's a Korean Bank. So, I mean, then there's not many other business that's got the international flavor. I mean, yeah, mostly just mono-ethnic. I mean like the Jinny Beauty Supply is one of the largest beauty supply company in the United States. When they first moved down here we provided financing for their warehouse and line of credit and they now got probably sales, probably, over -- I haven't talked to anybody, but I think it's probably close to billion dollars. It's a beauty supply. Hair care for the 00:48:00African American market.

LIOU: And that's located on Buford Highway? Or in?

YU: Doraville in there at 85 and -- Oh, what's that? Not Pleasantdale. What's the other one? Well, anyway, just in that corner. They own a bunch of warehouses.

LIOU: Did you ever get involved politically or as a leader in the community?

YU: One time I thought about it. So, I'm not running for Congress but I was, I lived in John Lewis' district. I said, "There's no way I can run against him." So, no. Then I thought about CO to DeKalb County. Then I said, "I don't live in DeKalb County. There's no way I can run." So, I said, too much hassle. Once you run, you don't have any private life. Everything is open so I said, "Forget it. It's not, it's not me." Now, see, because at that time it was banking. I said, 00:49:00"Why go to Taiwan, to go to China, I can go to a karaoke bar without worrying about it but if I'm a public figure, forget it. It's not going to happen." So, yeah, I thought about it. I even talked to one consultant. As I said, "Eh, it's not worth it." Too much hassle. That was about fifteen years ago.

LIOU: What as your -- What would have been your platform?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: What would have been your platform? Your agenda?

YU: Well, my agenda, really, because I was able to work with diverse communities doing economic business development for the community, we were able to revitalize the area that was really, really in the pits and bring it up. Look at what happened in Doraville and Chamblee right now. It's just remarkable. So, yeah, it's more on the economic development. And I was able to work with 00:50:00different, very diverse groups, and we -- I think, we're very proud, especially even within the staff of Summit Bank. We view -- Most of the communities see us as their community bank. Whether it's the Chinese community or Korean community or Islamic Community. They think we're their community bank because it was always there to support them. Okay, when they have worthwhile cost, they ask for money. We give them money. If they need personnel support, we give them personnel support. So, that's it.

LIOU: So, where would you have like -- If you had been a politician -- and you're already a leader -- but if you had been a politician, and an elected official, what would you have wanted to see more of? To follow up your, with 00:51:00your economic business, economic development accomplishments? How would you have brought that to the general public?

YU: I think it's -- Because the connection I made while as a banker. I made quite a few connection primarily in Taiwan. I think being a politician I can really bring the investment over. Not only Taiwan but also from China to this area.

LIOU: What challenges would you be solving? What problems? How would you be improving people's lives?

YU: What problems?

LIOU: Yeah.

YU: I didn't run.

LIOU: No, I mean, if you had run?

YU: If I had run.

LIOU: Yeah. How would you have solved, improved people's lives.

YU: I don't know. You never know until you run it. You don't know what kind of 00:52:00racial problems are going to come up. Okay? Because I didn't run. I'm a banker. I provide good service for my customers. The racial problem never came up. So, if I run for political office, the opponent would bring that up. Even though I didn't bring it up, they would bring it up. Okay? So, it's -- That's a reality. There's nothing you can do about it. It's not like people running for Johns Creek or a small city. It's not a big deal. If I run for Congress, I can assure you they going to bring up the racial issue. And I don't go to church. So, that 00:53:00would be a major issue. For Southern Baptists. Right? So, that's reality.

LIOU: Can I go a little further and pursue that? Have you seen anyone with political aspirations been derailed by these racial issues?

YU: Not really. I mean, because think about it. When we started the bank in the mid-80s, okay, there's not many -- The Asian Community is pretty small at that time. We're talking about probably 20,000 Korean, 20,000 Chinese, and the rest was about 20,000. So, it's a very tiny. And I was able to raise the capital. We raised about $11 million. At that time, it was a large sum -- back in the '80s. Raised the money and opened a bank. And without many hassle from anybody. And we 00:54:00kind of -- We don't know. At that time, we decided to go to national charter versus state charter. We figured national charter probably less problem than state charter because we don't know what the attitudes. The state regulator would deal with an ethnic bank at that time. The way it turned out, all the other banks, they all primarily state charted banks. The Global Commerce and First IC. They all state chartered banks. So, we thought about it. We didn't anticipate it, we deal with it and it really turned out to be nothing. I mean, I got a lot of people's help. I mean, I gone to Arnall Golden Gregory. I knew a couple of lawyers here. That's was way back. I don't whether that's still here or not but they probably retired like me. So, yeah. I mean, so people talk about 00:55:00racial discrimination. I just said, personally, I don't feel it. And I've been here for forty-some-years and personally I never felt it. I tried to talk to my people in the community. I said, "Look, the problem is you tend to stay with your own group. You don't socialize with your colleagues. You don't go play golf with colleague. You play golf within your own community, right?" The Korean play with Korean. Chinese play with Chinese. They never play with Americans. Or their colleagues or their boss. So, how do they know what you can do other than 00:56:00professionally? Okay. So, if you don't talk to them, they never know. All they know, you're good at what you do. But there's more than that in career development. Your boss need to know what else can you do. Are you involved in the extra activities? Do you -- I mean, the charitable organizations? Are you involved in it? If you don't, then you're just a busy worker. Like, that's it. Any management position open up, they'll pass you. That's how I see it. I don't know whether it's right or wrong but that's how I see it because I know my community. Friday night, we get together the whole weekend. We rarely go out to reach out to the outside community. That's the problem I see. Not just the 00:57:00Chinese. Korean is the same. Vietnamese is the same.

LIOU: What are the best examples? Like are there people that you say, "Wow, they're really open to other communities?" Or you know, like --

YU: Well, the people I know that are very successful in their career they not just stay in the community. They reach out, they mentor. They are in the mainstream community. Not just stay in the community. Those are the people. They were able to advance much further in the company. Or career-wise they can move up. The people that stay within the community, they're always bitching and moaning about they never get an opportunity to move up. I said, but, "They don't know you. Right?

LIOU: Is there any implications for that kind of strategy? Not just for 00:58:00individual career advancement but for -- Are there other goals beyond career advancement for that kind of outward facing interaction?

YU: Well, I was fat and back in the -- Let's see, I start running back in 2004, 2005. I was close to two hundred pounds and I start running. Then I run the Peachtree and I finish it. My first Peachtree I finish at sixty-one minutes. I said, "Hey, that's not bad. Better than I thought." I start running just a little bit, just for fun. Then one day the Mayor of Taipei visited Atlanta. He's a runner and he and I went to the same junior high school. We know each other so 00:59:00I took him to Chastain Park running. Early in the morning, 5:30. And, he said, "Oh, David, why don't you run the marathon?" I said, "What do you mean marathon?" I never -- The most I do is 10K. I never think about marathon. He said, "You can do it." He said, "One of my staff in the office she start running and she finish the marathon." I said, "Really?" He said, "Yeah. You should just try it." So, from there I start thinking about it. I run a few 10K. Then Ron said, "Hey, a half marathon is only two 10K plus one mile. That's it." So, I said, "Let's try it." So, I did a few half marathons, then from there I really start seriously thinking about marathons. So, I ended up running a marathon in 2005 and since then -- At that time I thought, when I was a kid in Taiwan, I 01:00:00said running marathons, that's crazy. Never do it. So, at that time, at least before I die, I'll do one marathon. So, I did it. Now, I run seven continent and probably fifty marathons already. I'm going to London next month. I just came back from Tokyo. So, and this is -- It's fun trip because you get to know a lot of people. Especially on international trips. I stay with the marathon tour and you get to see some people from other trips. So, it's become a family type. So, it's fun.

LIOU: Do you also join Peter on his badminton tours?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: Do you join Peter Chang on his badminton tours?

YU: My family?

LIOU: No, Peter Chang.

YU: Peter Chang. I love him.


LIOU: He was a badminton god.

YU: His badminton -- He's good badminton, yeah.

LIOU: He's a master. He's a world champion in badminton.

YU: He tried to get me to go to the same city where he can play badminton and I run marathons. We can never, never match.

LIOU: Okay, well, I have two last questions and it's about Buford Highway. So, what is one thing that everybody gets right about Buford Highway?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: What is one thing -- How is one way -- What is one thing that everybody gets right about Buford Highway?

YU: Okay. The way that it happened not some masterminded, did a master planning for that. It just happened. So, it's really the entrepreneur did work. Then the city of Chamblee and DeKalb County get involved and do the landscape and all 01:02:00that. That was later. That was in -- That just happened in the last five years. It all on the private side. Okay. The bank, the entrepreneur, worked together and get Buford Highway.

LIOU: What is one thing everybody gets wrong about Buford Highway?

YU: Hmn? Running Buford Highway?

LIOU: No, what is one thing everybody gets wrong about Buford Highway?

YU: You're talking about now or you're talking about before?

LIOU: Before and now? Anything?

YU: Well, before it was, it was -- They were not wrong. It was a depressing area because the GM plant is going downhill, they're cutting people and so it's really the whole area depended on GM. So, when GM is going down then all the commerce start going down. And then the new immigrants come in, the 01:03:00entrepreneurs start moving in and we were catching the wave. So, bank got involved and we provided funding for a lot of small business and then housing flourished. It's not some bureaucrats or some genius out there did a master plan for the Buford Highway. That's not happening. It didn't happen. I mean look at the [unintelligible], the outside Buford Highway, the Korean grocery store across the street from the old Kmart. They try to do something. Nothing happens. It's still sitting there. I mean Buford Highway, you look at it it's really go up to -- Let's see, where is it? Where does that road -- I forgot the name of the street. Anyway, it basically go up to that point, okay? Then go further 01:04:00north. You got the railroad track. So, basically can only develop one side of the street the whole thing stopped. Then you had to go up to beyond Jimmy Carter Boulevard then start development again then go up north. Okay, because the railroad track really cut off the development. When you look at it, go out there, you pass that white windmill, go over there and it's all junkyard, used car sales. Nothing there. Until you get to Jimmy Carter then go up. Then it's different. So, that part, at the railroad, it's really just cut off the development. Otherwise, it will go all the way up to Duluth or Suwanee. Because 01:05:00that's because of the railroad. And also because of modern railroad, the city of Chamblee think what on the other side of track. The other side of the track is all the Asians, the Hispanics. They're on the other side of the track. This side of the track that's all white. Right?

LIOU: So, what does that mean for the future?

YU: Future for Buford Highway? I think it's revitalizing it. After 2008, it was pretty depressing, again, because a lot of businesses went out of business. And now, because the new entrepreneur moving in -- the City Market opened up, the Food Terminal. So, you got more entrepreneur opened up. So, it's a different kind of mix. Not just the Asian or Korean. You've got a southeast Asian, the Malaysians. They're moving in. They're doing it. So, it's -- So, you look at it 01:06:00it's really, it's still going to be in Buford Highway down toward Clairmont. I mean you got -- The southern end is going to be the Vietnamese and Hispanic and middle is probably Chinese-Malaysian that area. Then outside 285 is the Korean. Primarily Korean, right?

LIOU: Well, thank you. I seem -- Do you have any follow up questions?

YU: I can tell you where the first Asian grocery store started. It was the Tong Fu. The Tong Fu. The warehouse, Buford Warehouse. The father used to own a grocery store in Piedmont and Lindbergh. It's a different -- It was a Kmart. Behind it was -- Now it's a Home Depot, right? At the corner of Sidney Marcus 01:07:00and Piedmont and they owned a grocery store. That's where, in the midseventies, that's where we go for grocery shopping.

LIOU: Is the building there anymore?

YU: No, not any more. It's redeveloped. It's totally different now.

LIOU: Was that the Shin family?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: The owners of the Buford Highway Farmers Market? That was their store? Was that their store?

YU: That was the first Asian grocery store.

LIOU: When did that open? Did that open after you came here in 1974?

YU: I think it's in '74. It's right at that time. Then later, they DeKalb Farmers Market opened up, I think, on Lavista or Lawrenceville Highway. It's right at the corner there. That give the idea to build the Farmers Market. So, 01:08:00that's -- Anything else you want to know?

LIOU: Do you know what the support network is for the newest immigrants? Because the newest immigrants from China aren't coming from Fujian province -- either directly or through New York and Flushing?

YU: The new immigrants?

LIOU: Yeah.

YU: Coming to Atlanta right now?

LIOU: Yeah. Well, the Chinese ones coming to Buford Highway. Where -- What is the support network like now for the incoming immigrants?

YU: They're primarily in the restaurant business. In the restaurant and the restaurant supply. You see a lot of the buffets, they're owned by the mainland Chinese. And because they're buffets -- So, some of them get into the restaurant supply and the wholesaler business. So, yeah. I mean, the Koreans I don't know. 01:09:00I mean, they just. The Koreans actually came in big wave was after the '92 L.A. riot. Okay? A lot of them find out they can sell their house, buy a bigger house here and still got money left over to buy a business. So, that's when the big wave of Koreans moved is the '92 L.A. riot.

LIOU: When that happened was there any --

YU: Yeah, there's --

LIOU: Was there any recognition or fear in the Chinese community that there would be any tension?

YU: In Chinese community they were not impacted as much.

LIOU: Right.

YU: Because the Korean Town in L.A. was hit pretty bad. The Chinese in Monterrey 01:10:00Park wasn't hurt that bad. Because for some reason, I think, the Korean Town in L.A. is bordered near the African American community. So, they become prime target. Whereas the Chinese, they were near Monterrey Park. It was more low income, white community. Maybe I wouldn't say low income, but it just primarily the white or Hispanic community so it's not impacted as much. Here, Atlanta was because of the Korean owned a lot of grocery stores in the black community, some of them got hit. Then that's why they started the Korean-African-American business dialogue or collusion. Something like that. They're working to try to 01:11:00help the racial relationship between the black and the Koreans.

LIOU: Has that continued?

YU: Hmn?

LIOU: Has that continued?

YU: I don't know. Probably. You need to talk to the Korean Grocers Association. They are the ones that helped working on that. So, I don't know. Because there's all the small grocery stores in the black community -- initially operated by Jews, then Jews sell to the Koreans. I think that's still the case right now.

LIOU: In Doraville and Chamblee, you know, did the business owners -- When you started your bank there -- again, I want to ask again -- was there additional support beyond just loans? Like what other things? Were there other administrative, bureaucratic, you know? Was there any additional assistance 01:12:00beyond just issuing a loan?

YU: From the bank?

LIOU: From the bank to the immigrant entrepreneurs? To the entrepreneurs?

YU: Well, beyond the loans, I think, we provided a lot. When they want to do activities we provided funding. Or the seeding, seed fund for them to get started. Like the Chinese Business Association, when they start the first Chinese New Year celebration, we gave them money. We didn't underwrite the whole thing. We said, "We'll give you initial funding. You have to raise the other money." That's what we did with all the communities. So, yeah, that's I mean -- If somebody in our staff is from that community and they have a need for it, 01:13:00chances are well that we'll provide something. That's what we did.

SEAM PARK:I can talk into the microphone.

LIOU: Yeah, you can --

PARK: Sure.

LIOU: -- come closer. All right, we're double-teaming you.

YU: No, that's okay.

PARK:So this is Seam Park asking David questions.

LIOU: You can do that, again.

PARK: And I just had some follow-ups. Any regrets in your professional career or personal life?

YU: Not really. I mean I think it's a -- A lot of friends said, "Are you regretting selling the bank?" And I said, "No, I think it's -- The obligation is to taking care of shareholders' interest first. We had been taking 01:14:00care of our customers' interest for over eighteen years, and now the opportunity came. When people made an offer you cannot refuse, you had to go for it. So, that's what we -- We sold the bank, and returned to the original investors more than ten times return. I think that's -- I fulfilled my obligation as the organizer of the bank. We helped a lot of small business flourish, taking care of my customers and I think that's not -- The only regret was the bank that acquired us was -- Has got different mindset, different philosophy. They were a savings bank so they're mostly like doing the savings account and mortgage 01:15:00loans, whereas we were a commercial bank. So, there's a natural conflict of philosophy. That's what makes it tough.

PARK:Yeah. Now, we talked some about support from local governments in the development of Buford Highway. Sounds like the city of Chamblee was helpful, especially with the fundraising campaign. Were there any challenges with local government, whether it was police or local officials that delayed the development of Buford Highway and the adoption of the community?

YU: The police -- We had a pretty good relationship because my philosophy was we hire for bank security. We would hire and off-duty police officer. I think it's they -- Because the branch is inside city of Chamblee, so we hired Chamblee police officer. So, that way if anything happened, for them, it was easy to 01:16:00call. It was easier for them to call than for us to dial 9-1-1. And also it was their cruiser parked in front. It just basically made it a lot safer. I think the challenge for the community as a whole was very -- People complaining about the zoning. The city of Chamblee and Doraville make it tough for rezoning, for building permit -- Make it very tough. I had a pretty good relationship with the city of Chamblee. I don't have any problem. DeKalb County, I think, CDBG provided money for the capital campaign I'm talking about. They had provided some money for them.

PARK:Is there someone in the history in the city of Chamblee -- or someone you worked closely with in local government -- who really had a powerful impact on 01:17:00the Buford Highway community? And can you tell me a little bit about that person?

YU: Not really. I mean, there's -- No, I mean, there's only one lady, Paige. She was working closely with us. She's more community development. So, she has a pretty good close relationship with us. As far as the others, not really get involved in it. Because to them Buford Highway was just kind of lost world. There was nothing there. Think about when you take out the Chinatown and some of the new development along Chamblee Dunwoody Road. I mean, there's nothing. There 01:18:00was just some barrack-like houses. Behind Chinatown, the vacant land, it was old barracks from World War II. It was to support PDK. So, it was tiny little houses there. There's no commerce where Chinatown is. There was nothing.

PARK:If a friend of yours was visiting from, let's say Taiwan, had never been to Atlanta before and you wanted to explain to him what Buford Highway is and what he can expect, how would you describe it to him?

YU: It's a miracle we made it happen. Because, I mean, way back it was pretty, pretty bleak. Some areas, look at it still. Going from the CDC down south toward 01:19:00the Plaza Fiesta you can see there's nothing there. Before the immigrant came in it was pretty much like that. You can talk to Jack Halpern or his son. Now, his son, he can tell you how their shopping center was doing before the Asian came to Buford Highway.

PARK: Yeah.

YU: So, it's -- Yeah, I mean, it's -- Unfortunately, right now, the late -- the newcomers -- that come to Atlanta, a lot of them know about Buford Highway but they don't know about Chinatown.

PARK: Right.

YU: So, because there is a move up to Johns Creek, Duluth, Alpharetta, in that 01:20:00area. The Pleasant Hill and in that area.

PARK:So, what do you see for the future of the corridor south of there? So, from 85 South down to Clairmont? What can we expect in the next decade?

YU: I think it's going to have a more diverse -- Well, diverse, I mean, diverse investor coming in as you can see it. Because when the bank -- when Summit -- when we were there, either Chinese or Korean, that's it. Now you have a lot of Malaysian, the Vietnamese, the Hispanic. They're all coming in. They make it better. When you look at the Food Terminal, before it was just all building, nothing there and look at what they have done. Also look at the City Market. It was just a flea market. There was nothing there. So, things are turning around making it better.


I think you're going to have more investors coming in. Not necessarily Chinese or Korean because they are moving up north. But you'll see the southeast Asians, the Hispanic. They're going to be moving in to that area.

PARK:Do you worry about the diversity of investors stripping away the character and the history of Buford Highway and really the diversity of the community?

YU: No, I don't think that happen. I mean, think it's -- If you look at it, Buford Highway corridor versus, say, Korea town in L.A., Koreatown in L.A. is several blocks. So, basically you have a lot of choices. In Buford Highway, you don't have too many choices. Just basically, that corridor is commercial. Move 01:22:00beyond, it's all residential. If you want to do business, you have to stay on the corridor. That's it. Still have a lot of vacant land. The corner of Chamblee Tucker and Buford Highway right in front of the IRS building. It's still vacant. There's a shopping center still vacant. There's quite a few -- A lot of vacant land around it. So, if people want to come in a build something, they can do it. It's not -- There's no exclusivity for any ethnic group.

PARK: Yeah. I know you're retired, but it seems like your business mind is still active and sharp. From a business perspective, do you think there's anything missing from Buford Highway that you would like to see the younger generation step in and fulfill?


YU: I don't know. I cannot say it because it's up to the entrepreneur. They'll see the opportunity and they'll come in and do something. It's not for me to suggest anything because I don't know. Things are moving so fast it's hard for me to really suggest anything that could happen. Food Terminal -- I mean, perfect example: Sweet Hut. There were people in Chinese community doing the bakery and nothing happened. And look at Sweet Hut selling bubble tea. That's it. Over free internet. They're all over the place, right? The Food Terminal, I mean, they're not selling anything fancy. They just sell -- It's different 01:24:00set-up than your ordinary Chinese or Korean restaurant. People like it. So, I think it's going to be more trendy thing to do something different, not just stay with the same traditional way of doing things. Today I went to the Buford Highway for the [unintelligible] tofu. I can tell the taste is not as good as before. I don't know if they changed the manager or owner or not, but it's not as potent as before.

PARK:Well, you're clearly still dining on Buford Highway. In retirement, how are you staying involved and connected to the communities that you care about?

YU: I still -- A few old folks like us, we get together once or twice a week have dinner -- have lunch -- over there, just exchange gossip and still talk 01:25:00to people there. Normally, I don't get involved in any kind of organization because of -- One of the reasons is more -- Because I've been involved in a lot of organizations in the leadership role. If I started getting involved, people will say, "What are you doing here? You try to compete with us?" I said, "No, I going to stay out of here. I have some activities, I'm interested, but that's [unintelligible]. I said that I'm out."

PARK:Well, thank you so much for your time.

YU: You're welcome.

PARK:You have incredible knowledge and memory and we appreciate you sharing all the history.

YU: I'm glad you're doing it before my memory faded. Oh, I carried the Olympic torch on the --


LIOU: What?

PARK:Well, we need to hear more about that. So, how did that come about and --

YU: I was involved in the community all over the place. So, one day when I was in a meeting my secretary came and said, "Coca-Cola is calling you." So, I went to answer the phone. It was Sandra. I said, "Hey, Sandra, what can I do for you?" She said, "Can you do me a favor?" I said, "Sure, anything." Because I know her. She was the chair of the Coke foundation. She said, "I want you to carry the Olympic torch." I said, "What?" I said, "Yeah, I'll do it on the one condition: I have to run in front of the Chinatown." They said, "Okay, we'll make that happen." So, I did. They light the torch right in front of Chinatown. I carry it up to the New Peachtree row.

PARK: This was before marathon David.

YU: That was before marathon David.

LIOU: Do you have pictures from that?


YU: Yeah.

PARK:You'll have to share those with us and, um --

YU: It was a big event in the Chinese community, the Asian community.

LIOU: [Crosstalk, unintelligible] Chinatown 5K torch.

PARK:That's right. So, pre-Olympics, post-Olympics Buford Highway -- Did you notice any big changes with the city and with that neighborhood in particular?

YU: I think right now -- I think because so much new development, my concern is they will -- What should I say? Not -- What's the right word for it? The tax 01:28:00dollar is going to come from a lot of new development. The ethnic community provides so little. We're not going to pay too much attention to it. Before we were big, for them in terms of tax rolls. But now they just say, eh. Look at Peachtree Industrial. You have so much new development over there. City of Chamblee says, "I could care less about you guys?" That's my biggest concern.


LIOU: I read an article where you were quoted -- it was about the development of Plaza Fiesta from the outlet mall into oriental mall before it was Plaza Fiesta -- and I think you were quoted as saying after the Olympics now people will -- There will be a lot more exposure for people coming from around the world. They will see Atlanta as a place that they might want to go. Did you see that happen 01:29:00now that Atlanta is in the public spotlight?

YU: I think people coming from, visit Atlanta still. In the Chinese community, they will still take them to Chinatown to see it, to have lunch or dinner. Probably not dinner. They'll probably stay up in the north for dinner. But definitely would bring them to Buford Highway and see Chinatown, see the community center, see how things are going there. But the problem people are complaining about, not much to see in Atlanta. I say, "Well, now it's getting better." You go to downtown, there are so many museums down there now not like before. For a lot of Chinese I just joke and say for them the impression of the 01:30:00United States is L.A., Las Vegas, and New York. That's it. Nothing in between.

PARK: How do you think Buford Highway would have been different if it was located in the center of the city, let's say right off of Woodruff Park, and there was density, and --

YU: It's not. That's not -- See, when you look at it, you look at all of Chinatown. Chinatown has been here longer than the Koreatown. Koreatown came later. Look at Chinatown, most of Chinese in downtown. Why? Because that's an area where people don't want to live there. Well, there's New York Chinatown, Boston Chinatown, the San Francisco Chinatown. It's where people don't want to go because land is cheap. So, they went there. Now it's different. But when you 01:31:00go to all the Chinatowns, it's the same thing. Here, it's the same thing. When they build the Chinatown, land was cheap. The International Village was an apartment building. They had to tear it down. It was run down apartments. Yeah, so, it's -- Right now, if you go downtown, you won't survive because the rent will kill you. The small business, they're looking for places that rent is not expensive. They can survive. If rent is too expensive, they're not going to do it. They cannot do it. The same thing in Flushing in New York. I was there back in the '70s. I mean, it was nothing. Now it's totally different. People move there because it's the end of the 7 Train, it's convenient, and it was 01:32:00cheap. That time we stayed in an apartment a Jewish owner --landlord -- offered to sell eight units for $240,000. That was in '75. Now it's going to be 24 million. Right on Mean Street. So, the new immigrants tend to go places where it's cheap. In the center of town, when the old Chinatown, when they started it was a cheap area. It's like a ghetto. Nobody wants to go there. They went there, they set up the business. Not because it's downtown. Think about it. When I first came to Atlanta, the mid-town area was dilapidated. I mean, a lot of strip 01:33:00clubs, a lot of hippies along 10th Street to Piedmont Park. Piedmont Park was cheap. Nobody wanted to live there. Now it's totally different.

PARK:Yeah, that area has experienced a lot of change.

YU: I just ran the half-marathon on Sunday and passed North Highland, the Virginia Highland area. I said I used to live down the street from Manuel's Tavern. Now it's all gone. It was an apartment down there. Now it's all gone. At that time Virginia Highland's, there's no restaurant there.

PARK: The Beltline has completely upended that part of town. And I think speaking to Buford Highway, I know there's been a lot of effort made over the past twenty years or so in making the area safe for pedestrians. What more do 01:34:00you think could be done to make the area more pedestrian-friendly, and really visitor-friendly?

YU: Pedestrian-friendly is tough because you've got seven-lane Buford Highway. That's tough. Especially, it's a pretty hilly street. So, that makes it tough. I mean, it's hard to cross. I know they made an effort to try to make the people cross the street easier and safer, but still it's a wide highway. It's a lot better. I mean, it's a lot better. The sidewalk is a lot better and the street light is much prettier than before. Before there was nothing there. I guess it 01:35:00takes -- I think it's really up to the city of Chamblee and Doraville now they have more tax revenue, how much do they want to invest on the Buford Highway to make it more, like you said, pedestrian-friendly, be more creative and make it more attractive for people to come and do business.

PARK: Yeah. So, I know you shared your memory of running the torch in front of Chinatown -- which is a heck of a memory -- but if you could think of one thing that has happened on Buford Highway to you, professionally or personally, that is the most meaningful, what is that memory to you?

YU: I don't know. I guess when we moved the branch from Chinatown and opened up 01:36:00on the Buford Highway- Shallowford road. That's probably one of -- That's not a new development, because you've got Asian Square. They built it. But it's probably one of the major office buildings built on Buford Highway for a long time. And that was very well received and also we used that facility a lot for various occasions because we could open up the downstairs. Like, for example, during the Olympics we hosted the team from Taiwan, hosted a reception in the branch. So, we told them to take the MARTA. It's easier than for us to go downtown to get them. Yeah, I think we built a building that's become a landmark.


PARK: For the second time, thank you very much for your time.

YU: You're welcome. I really appreciate you guys putting this together. If nobody is doing it, the whole thing gets lost.

PARK: Yeah.