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Margaret Kuo’s Leaves a Dining Legacy in the Main Line Region

Learn what’s next for Margaret Kuo's following the closure of its flagship location after 22 years of culinary excellence in the Philly suburbs.

Margaret and Warren Kuo at their Wayne location.
Photo credit Ed Williams

Not long after Margaret Kuo made her Main Line debut in 2002, a man ordered a steak at the new Wayne location. It arrived julienne style, with bamboo shoots and green pepper. His confused reaction: “Where’s my beef?”

Such was the tall task facing the beloved local restaurateur and her husband, Warren. Their mission was to introduce diners to a more sophisticated take on Asian cuisine. Over two decades later, they’ve accomplished their mission, even as the Kuo empire has dwindled to one restaurant. Celebrated for everything from its spring rolls to its sushi to its wine list, the Wayne location closed its doors in March, leaving just Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen in the Promenade at Granite Run. “It’s hard to put it into words,” says Warren. “It’s something Margaret and I have put our hearts into. We wanted to build something unique that would last.”

“We have so many people to thank,” Margaret adds.

Like her husband, Margaret is now in her early 80s. She was born in Manchuria, moving to Taiwan with her family during the communist takeover of China. When she was young, her passion was ballet—though her grandfather cooked for an empress in China. “I had recipes handed down from generation to generation,” Margaret says. “I learned from my mother and grandmother. We had very traditional items, and I’m proud to say that we were always introducing authentic, refined Chinese cuisine. We never did fusion.”

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Margaret met Warren in the 1960s when both were students at the University of Connecticut. They wed in 1972. “She married me out of sympathy,” Warren jokes.

Warren earned a law degree in Taiwan but was unable to find work as an attorney in the United States. The couple moved to the area when a friend asked Warren to help manage a restaurant he was opening in King of Prussia. Margaret, meanwhile, worked as a chemist and research assistant at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, in addition to a pair of local chemical companies.

Margaret began planning a new course as a restaurateur after a visit from her parents and their underwhelming meal at a local Chinese restaurant. The Kuos opened Peking restaurant in the Granite Run Mall in the mid-’70s. The updated version, Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen, is now the last location standing. Not long ago, there were four restaurants, including Margaret Kuo’s Mandarin in Malvern and another Margaret Kuo’s Kitchen location in Media. Both closed after the pandemic.

The Kuos are selling the Wayne building “lock, stock and barrel,” Warren says. With 11 years left on its lease, the Granite Run restaurant will continue under the guidance of the couple’s oldest son, Mark. Warren will maintain a management role. “No retirement for me,” he says with a laugh.

Margaret and Warren Kuo at their Wayne restaurant in February.
Margaret and Warren Kuo at their Wayne restaurant in February. Photo by Ed Williams.

While Warren helps Mark tend to the Granite Run location, Margaret hopes to remain busy. She’ll continue to connect with the community at various events, and the Kuos will remain active Rotarians. “Their philosophy of international peace is important to us,” Margaret says.

The Wayne location was shuttered with little fanfare, though the Kuos have fielded a steady stream of good wishes. “I’ve loved this community for all these years,” Margaret says.

Margaret also plans to publish a book about her experiences and the many connections she’s made. “It’s not easy to sit down and write,” she says. “For the past 40 years, I’ve lived my life with our customers. I’ve shared joy and sadness. I don’t want to just write recipes. I have a lot of stories.”

Related: These Bagel Shops Around the Main Line Are Must-Visits

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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