May (Toy) and Albert Louie operated the cafe in 1989. May arrived in 1961 at the age of ten. May's great-grandfather came to Canada from China to work for CN. Eventually returning to China, his son Don Toy arrived in Vancouver in 1914, to make more money than he could working in China. Don opened the cafe in 1938. What happened in the intervening years between Vancouver and Gladstone is unknown! By 1955, Don's son had come to Canada to take over the restaurant. Then, May and Albert took over in 1983. Both cooked, and May recalls no escape during busy times, having to come downstairs from the family living quarters to help out.
In 1989, the restaurant had a non-family staff of five waitresses and dishwashers. There was discussion whether Morris Avenue, fronting the cafe was the main street in town, or whether Dennis Street, which crossed Morris a block from the Paris Cafe, was the mainer! A large trackside mural of the Eiffel Tower with 'PARIS CAFE' in large letters adorned the trackside wall, though not in this Googlemaps image:
Some customers, on their first visit, jump out of their seats when the trains pass by. This photo taken from a CN locomotive cab gives an idea of just how close the trains are to the cafe.
The larger question of why most Prairie towns had a Chinese restaurant invites inquiry. It's been widely studied by sociologists - the phenomenon has lasted the entire 20th century. Before 1900, almost all Chinese immigrants in Canada lived in British Columbia.The first wave arrived in 1858 to work in gold mines in the Fraser Valley. The second wave, 1881-85, worked on the building of the CPR. Chinese labour was cheap and plentiful. Working conditions were sometimes appalling, and these stories have been documented and commemorated.
Steven J. Brown shared these photos of VIA No 692 passing through Gladstone on August 26, 2019. The Paris Cafe is at the 'B' end of the second unit: