On any given day, Menomonee Falls residents can take a stroll down quiet, and sparsely travelled Church Street to get a glimpse of a vehicle rarely seen on the roadways in the village - or anywhere in this country for that matter.
It’s hard not to notice that stretched out, neo-classical automobile with a cream paint job parked unceremoniously behind Harvey Moy’s Chinese Restaurant. The license plate, “H Moy 1,” clearly identifies the man who owns the keys that start the rolling work of art, which seems to have leaped from the pages of The Great Gatsby.
Indeed, that vehicle is local restauranter Harvey Moy’s Zimmer Golden Spirit. It was custom built to Moy’s personal tastes, and every inch of the automobile embodies its $155,000 price tag.
But the vehicle, which costs as much as most Falls homes, is more than a symbol of luxury and personal wealth. It’s a symbol of Moy’s tireless work ethic, which is just as rare as the Zimmer he drives.
38 Years and Going Strong
Knowledge of the restaurant business courses vigorously through Moy's capillaries. His grandfather owned 18 restaurants throughout Hong Kong, and Moy represents the third generation of restaurant owners in the family. He came to the United States at the age of five because his mother wanted her children to earn an American education.
At the age of 20, Moy purchased the building that houses Harvey Moy’s on Appleton Avenue, and has operated his business there for 38 years. An industrious work ethic is largely attributed to his success.
“I work with a Chinese watch without hands,” Moy joked as he looked at his wristwatch. “That means we don’t work by the hour, our workday is done when the work is finished. It’s something my grandfather taught me and is key to success in the restaurant business.”
Moy unofficially estimated that he, along with his sons Elliot and Julian, put in roughly 75-80 hours each 6-day workweek. Those 80 hours aren’t idle hours either. Moy is constantly keeping close tabs of every detail in and out of the kitchen. On three occasions, Moy stepped away from the interview last week with Patch to tend to business, wash his hands, and sit back down at the table.
Moy’s attention to detail and his focus on fresh ingredients remain key components to building one of Falls’ most recognizable businesses – and his personal wealth.
“We purchase fresh ingredients each day, and all of our meals are made to order. We don’t prepare any of our dishes ahead of time,” Moy said. “All of dishes are also made with our family recipe.”
A Local Icon
The unique combination of Moy’s food and service has left a mark on influential folks around the world. Simply glance at the wall of photos at the entrance of Harvey Moy’s for evidence that his reputation is familiar for many.
Moy has satiated the appetites of Chinese ambassadors, actors, news anchors, professional athletes, and more. Each picture recalls its own story from Moy’s memory.
“Edgar Bennett came here in 1997 before the Packers won the Super Bowl,” Moy said gesturing toward an autographed picture of himself and Bennett. “I gave him a Buddha statue to take home with him for good luck, and it worked. They won the Super Bowl that year.”
During the height of popularity for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, Moy fed the actor underneath the Michelangelo costume in the movies. Moy clearly had more stories, but found it a little difficult to tell more on the spot.
Moy’s vigilance and diligence is also evident outside the walls of the restaurant. Moy is an astute player in the stock market, but he kept his investment strategy close to the chest.
“I buy and sell based on my hunches,” Moy said with a smile.
Moy also teaches seminars in martial arts from the red belt level to the fifth-degree black belt level. Basically, Moy has turned his passions into his lifeblood. He hopes to continue the Moy restaurant legacy and pass the business on to his sons and daughter Amanda. Perhaps one day they’ll drive their own Golden Spirit, but discipline must come first.
“Elliot and Julian can craft anything in the kitchen, and they’d like to expand someday,” Moy said. “But first they need to learn to tell time with that Chinese wristwatch without hands.”