Because of pandemic restrictions, Sesame Inn’s booths and tables will at the moment remain unused, no one will sit at their long granite bar, no one will be making plans to spend their birthday there. But if you order takeout, you might just be able to get a glimpse of all the work that went in to turning the former retail space at 704 Washington Road into a modern Chinese restaurant.
“We can’t do a grand opening party or anything. I don’t think it’s a good idea … we’re not going to be doing dine-in. It’s not safe for customers, not safe for employees,” said George Lee, a Mt. Lebanon resident who opened Sesame Inn at its former location across the street 33 years ago.
Originally from Taiwan, Lee moved to the United States in 1976. He and his wife, Jennifer, decided to settle here to raise their daughter, Justina, and open their business. Now that she’s grown and living in Seattle, they plan to stay in Mt. Lebanon.
“It was time to renew the lease [in our location across the street] … My wife wanted to continue with the business, so we continued. She’s the boss,” said George. Because they had accessibility issues in their former second-floor location, they decided to pick up the lease on their new space across the street, which opens directly onto Washington Road.
That was back in March, 2020. Construction could not begin until summer, after the lockdown lifted. Then contractors’ schedules were backed up, causing Lee to push the opening date back from September to October to December. He was finally able to open on December 14, 2020.
From the floor to the ceiling, the Lees completely re-built and redesigned the space. The bar stretches from the entrance through the length of the large dining area. A smaller dining area sits between the bathrooms, bar and kitchen. The floors and skirting are a dark wood design, and the light fixtures resemble colorful paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
Sesame Inn’s menu will remain the same. They will continue to offer their signature Chinese and Thai dishes, as well as their sushi menu. For now, they are takeout and delivery only, but the Lees look forward to inviting customers into their new dining room.
Sesame Inn has partner locations in the North Hills and in Peters Township.
“We want to thank the people of Mt. Lebanon for 33 years of support,” Lee said.
Visit www.sesameinn.com to order online and for information on hours.