Faces of the International Marketplace: Ruimei "May" Liu
Ruimei “May” Liu has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Born in 1964, she grew up the youngest of six children from a family in Guangzhou, China, a port city of 14.5 million people. Her parents both worked in factories, but May wanted to be her own boss. After completing her high school education, she worked for a factory, but quickly decided to branch out on her own. She started her own business producing and selling potstickers and dumplings wholesale to schools, businesses, and restaurants.
While working, she met her future husband. Five years later, they got married and had a son. She also met and befriended a Hoosier who was living in China. When she decided to try her hand at starting a business in the U.S., she chose Indianapolis as her destination. Unfortunately, the market was flooded at that time, so May ended up working for a software company. Four years in, her husband and son joined her in Indy.
In 2012, may got her wish to be a business owner again. She and her husband knew of a Chinese restaurant at 34th and Lafayette Road, but the restaurant did not seem authentic and had a limited menu. She purchased the restaurant, renamed and remodeled it, expanded the menu and worked diligently to make sure the food served was authentically Chinese. Lucky Lou is now known as one of the best places to get dimsum in Central Indiana.
When asked what she loves about owning the restaurant, May says it’s more than being her own boss – she also enjoys that she works with family and friends, creating a welcoming atmosphere for all of their customers. To stay connected with her roots, every first Sunday of the month she hosts a group of Cantonese families and individuals who live in Indianapolis at the restaurant for community and conversation.
Several years ago, a Chinese individual came into the restaurant and shared with May that they were visiting Indianapolis from Maryland for specialized cancer treatment at IU Health. When May learned of their condition, she offered to make a special Chinese traditional medicinal soup for them. Since then, May offers this dish to any individual who is in the area for treatment, and sometimes she or her husband even bring it to the hospital.
May is quick to say that she doesn’t do this for any kind of recognition, she does it because she wants to help the community in whatever way she can. One of the pillars of May’s life is her faith. She says she knows that God watches over her, and because she’s been so fortunate in her life, she feels very lucky. This is why she named her restaurant Lucky Lou.
Written by Hannah Lindgren
*We spoke with May through an interpreter.