Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Zhenyu Tang, Joseph Baker


Immigration reform in 1965 enabled a large number of Chinese immigrants to settle in the United States. Chinese restaurants expanded quickly both quantitatively and geographically. This thesis researches the interactions between Chinese restaurant employers and employees and their customers. I focus on several Chinese restaurants in a mid-size Southeast U.S. city with a university and I analyze their methods for attracting culturally distinct groups of customers—local Americans and Chinese students or immigrants. I conducted participant observation in two Chinese restaurants and in-person interviews with 14 people from four restaurants whose roles are owners, managers, or servers. I found that Chinese restaurants in my sample shifted their cuisine to accommodate local American customers. I also found that they provided unofficial services for Chinese customers. By operating as quasi cultural centers and information hubs, the restaurants I studied cultivated loyal Chinese customers and maintained their claims to ethnic authenticity.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.