STEWART Yip – the self-made founder of the Chi Yip Group, which includes Sakana, Red Chilli and Ocean Treasure restaurants, as well as K2 Karaoke in Chinatown and Chi Yip supermarket in Middleton – has passed away following a short battle with cancer.
He will always be remembered for Red Chilli, his Sichuan restaurant group, which in its heyday attracted not only a traditional Chinese audience but fanatical food geeks
Mr Yip’s son, Andy Yip, said his father was a ‘hero’ whose work in the community and with charities would be ‘remembered for generations to come’.
Northern Restaurant Bar (NRB) Show founder, Thom Hetherington, called Yip - a regular in the NRB Top 50 Powerlist - a 'formidable restaurant operator'.
Stewart Yip was born in Hong Kong in 1956 and emigrated to the UK in his early teens, settling in Oxford before moving to Manchester.
Whilst working as a manager in his father’s restaurant in the late seventies, Yip began buying huge quantities of spare ribs and selling them onto other restaurants and takeaways.
Yip quickly built up his meat wholesale business, establishing Chi Yip Ltd in a small warehouse near Oldham in 1980, later moving operations to a 4.5 acre site in Middleton in 1989.
In 1997 Yip opened a giant Chinese supermarket, Chi Yip Cash & Carry, in Middleton, followed by a move into the restaurant business. Yip opening the first Ocean Treasure in Middleton in 1999, followed by Manchester’s award-winning Red Chilli in 2003, K2 karaoke bar and a second Ocean Treasure in Manchester 235 casino in 2009, and the multimillion-pound Pan-Asian restaurant, Sakana, on Peter Street in 2014.
Mr Yip also held numerous public offices, including the President of the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM), the President of the Confederation of Chinese Associations UK and President of the Chinese Aid Trust - to which he donated tens of thousands of pounds.
The family have released this statement: ‘Our father was a great man, full of character and integrity. Not only was he a leader, he was an inspiration for many people. To his family he was our dad, devoted husband, kind and loving, our hero. His work within the Manchester community and with many charities will be remembered for generations to come and his legacy will live on.’
Hetherington added: 'He will always be remembered for Red Chilli, his Sichuan restaurant group, which in its heyday attracted not only a traditional Chinese audience but fanatical food geeks from across the region, and even the occasional national critic.'
Mr Yip passed away in Hong Kong surrounded by his family.
You can donate to his Just Giving page here - donations will be shared equally between Chinese charities and The Christie.