Sherman Lee, owner of Bill Lee’s Bamboo Chopsticks Restaurant, died on Thursday at the age of 76, according to the restaurant.
Lee took over operations of the restaurant decades ago from his father Bill Lee, who started it back in 1938. He was running the business, located at 1203 18th St., with his sons Brian and Brandon Lee.
The business offers a traditional dining area as well as a lounge and banquet room. The restaurant serves Chinese food and specializes in mixed drinks.
One frequent customer, Carmen Owen, said she's gotten to know Lee over the last several years she's come to the restaurant.
"He was a wonderful man," she said. "He was a very nice person. I had been sick recently, so I hadn't seen him in a while. It's sad I won't get another chance."
Another regular customer, Phil Bentley, said that he had been friends with Lee for more than 50 years, as the two had grown up across the street from each other.
"It's very sad. I've lost one of my best friends," he said. "He was a really easy-going person. There was no one he didn't like and no one who didn't like him. He treated his customers with great respect for choosing to come to his restaurant."
Bentley said that Lee was always supportive of expanding downtown and making it a more viable location for businesses.
"Over the years, the landscape has changed a lot," he said. "Sherman was always very supportive of that."
While Bentley said that losing a personal friend is difficult, he believe's Lee's death will also be a loss to the community as a whole.
"He was a big community asset," he said. "It's a big loss to the community."
This article was updated Oct. 6 to clarify that Bill Lee was Sherman Lee's father, not his brother.