At 84 years old, Gregory Skedros has achieved his dream of being a successful business owner by being flexible when the unexpected happened in his life.
In 1950, Skedros graduated from pharmacy school and began working toward his dream of owning a corner drugstore. Eleven years later, in 1961, he moved to Bountiful and achieved that dream. However, by 1975, it became apparent that corner drugstores were being replaced by pharmacies assimilated into larger grocery stores, and Skedros closed his shop.
In 1977, Skedros and his wife, Jenny, secured a lease on a 60-seat restaurant and made plans to open with a Greek-Italian menu. Those plans changed when the person they had hired to develop the menu and manage the restaurant unexpectedly backed out at the last minute. Scrambling for ideas of what to do next, the couple decided to open a Chinese restaurant -- since there were no others in Bountiful at that time.
Mandarin is now celebrating its 35th year as a popular and successful dining establishment. However, things have certainly changed and evolved over the past three and a half decades.
The original menu was developed by a Chinese family who had previously owned a restaurant in Vernal, and it included American fare. As the years went by, Skedros said, they retained their favorite recipes from a variety of chefs who worked for them, took trips to China and restaurants around the United States to study the cuisine, and experimented with cookbooks until they accumulated the collection of dishes offered on their current menu.
Over the years, the Skedros' five children worked at the restaurant. But only one daughter, Angel Manfredini, decided to make a career out of it. Her husband, Paul Manfredini, joined the family business when he and Angel married in 2005. In 2007, Jenny Skedros passed away.
Angel Manfredini went to school to study business management, and Skedros said that her expertise has helped transform the restaurant in positive ways. The service and cuisine keeps the waiting room full of eager customers each evening as they fill their dining room, which has been expanded to seat 200.
Some of the most popular menu items include Nanking Chicken ($10.99), with yams and sugar snap peas in a sweet garlic sauce; Almond Chicken ($10.99), crispy chicken in a sweet and sour sauce with toasted almonds; Szechwan Shrimp ($11.49), in a spicy sweet tomato garlic sauce; and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce ($8.99), with bamboo shoots and bell peppers.
The key to making the dishes so unique and flavorful is that the family restaurant has developed 35 different sauces. To ensure consistency, the kitchen is closely monitored by Skedros and the Manfredinis.
"There is nothing easy about running a restaurant," Skedros said, noting that he still puts in 60-hour work weeks. "We treat our customers like they are guests in our home."
- ADDRESS: 348 E. 900 North, Bountiful
- HOURS: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
- PHONE: 801-298-2406
- WEBSITE: www.mandarinutah.com