On Feb. 25, the Sacramento Asian Pacific American community mourned the sudden loss of Wing “Kai” Fat, the No. 1 son of the late Frank Fat. Frank Fat, the creator and founder of the famous state Capitol Chinese eatery and successful chain in his name, was the legendary visionary and respected patriarch of the Sacramento APA community for decades.
Wing, better known as “Kai” to the APA community, was born in Canton, China, in 1925. He stayed with his mother in China for 10 years while his father toiled as a dishwasher, saving enough money to open his own restaurant and bring his family to Sacramento. Five siblings were born after the family reunited, Jean Ann, Ken, Tom, Mable and Jerry. With his father working day and night to make the business a success, the paternal duty of watching after the family fell on Kai’s shoulders until he left to serve in the U.S. Air Force. Upon his return he earned a degree from Sacramento State University.
The restaurant’s fame was growing in the Sacramento region; it was one of the first upscale Chinese eateries that featured fine dining. It was also known for being the “hangout” for legislators, lobbyists and other prominent players in California politics. There was no question about who in the family would take over the management of the restaurant in order to allow Frank to pursue his dreams of expanding the business (there are now 10 Frank Fat restaurant properties). Frank also hoped to promote the interests of his beloved APA community and better cultural understanding between China and the United States.
&Mac253;ai’s warm and humble personality continued to make Frank Fat’s patrons feel welcome and special, whether they were known or not. He provided friendship and a safe haven for governors and legislators who spent many lonely nights away from home. Many of these individuals became some of Kai’s closest friends.
Understanding the importance of giving back to the community, Kai maintained a rigorous schedule of social and civic events. He served on the boards of many organizations including the River City Bank and Cathay Bank of Los Angeles and the UC Davis Transplant Hope Foundation. He was offered numerous gubernatorial appointments but accepted only two — one to the California Veterans Board from 1973 to 1982 and another to the California State Fair Board from 1982 to 1990. He worked together with local media icon Jon Kelley to create local television station KQCA, Channel 58, serving as its president from 1995 to 1999.
Kai recently donated $1 million to the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation toward the completion of a sports facility for APA youth.
In Chinese culture, Wing Kai Fat epitomized everything a father would want from a No. 1 son. He devoted his life, without ever seeking recognition, to overseeing all his businesses and family responsibilities while his father fulfilled his living legacy. And, Kai always gave credit for the continued success of the business to the younger members of the family.
After retirement, Kai was often asked about his accomplishments. His humility would only allow him to point to his wife and family and especially the grandchildren who provided him the greatest moments of joy during the latter part of his life.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, Chee Chan Fat; his sons Weyland and Collin and Collin’s wife, Elaine; his daughter, Corinne, and her husband, Rick Chee; and four cherished grandchildren, Natalie Fat, Bryan Fat, Eric Chee and Bradley Chee.
The family asks that donations be made in Mr. Fat’s memory to one of his favorite charities: UC Regents/Stem Cell Research, UC Davis Health Science Advancement, 4900 Broadway, Suite 1150, Sacramento, CA 95820, or the American Diabetes Association, 2720 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 110, Sacramento, CA 95833.