Christine Lee's restaurant is on the march again. The venerable and nomadic Chinese-American steakhouse, which has survived multiple moves since coming to South Florida in 1970, has closed temporarily while it relocates within the Gulfstream Park casino complex in Hallandale Beach.
Christine Lee’s is moving to the ground level of Gulfstream Park Village, across from Yard House and near the track’s walking ring, after a decade at a picturesque, third-floor perch overlooking the racing oval.
“We are temporarily closed and will be re-opening in November 2018 at our new location,” the restaurant writes on its website. The upscale eatery served the last of its signature steaks, chops and Chinese standards such as wonton soup, barbecue spare ribs and pan-fried noodles from its trackside location in July.
Christine Lee’s was founded in 1959 in Elizabeth, N.J. Owner Christine Lee Mallock moved the restaurant to Sunny Isles Beach after surviving a parking-lot attack in New Jersey, according to the restaurant’s website.
Christine Lee’s had three homes in Sunny Isles Beach over three decades, attracting a loyal and star-studded clientele that included Lucille Ball. It spent time at the Golden Strand hotel (1970-’74), the Thunderbird resort (1974-1995) and then a strip mall on Collins Avenue before taking up residence in a prime location overlooking the Thoroughbred racing strip in Gulfstream’s rebuilt clubhouse and casino in 2007.
The restaurant is now run by Mary Lee, Christine’s daughter. The trackside location was lucrative on major racing days such as Florida Derby Day, when the restaurant would charge hefty minimums for set menus, but it was not the easiest place to find or reach for its mostly older, well-heeled clientele.
The new location, across from Yard House overlooking the walking ring in the former home of Paladar Latin Kitchen, will be more visible and could attract more foot traffic among racegoers and shoppers at Gulfstream Park Village.
Plans are still being formulated for the former Christine Lee’s site on the track’s third floor, but a track official says the bar area will remain and the space will be used for special events and big race days.
Christine Lee’s loyalists have taken news of the pending move in stride.
“We will follow you to the moon, Mary,” Eric Papamom wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“I wish you an easy move,” Owen Wyman wrote on Facebook. “No matter where you are located, those who know quality and appreciate great service will enjoy your fine dining establishment.”