Keeping Business Local
George Yan enriches Wells with his culture and economic vision
By Dianna Troyer
While thinking about his upcoming 70th birthday in January, Wells businessman and former mayor George Yan says “it was time to hang up my apron strings,” he says.
He is leasing his restaurant to Jesus “Beto” and Aurora Aboite, but will keep running his other Wells businesses: a motel, apartments and an RV park.
The restaurant—Betaso’s Restaurant and Bar—features prime rib Friday and Saturday nights, and freshly prepared food daily.
“I’ve really appreciated the patronage from locals and the surrounding area all these years,” says George of his Chinese restaurant.
“Lately, we’ve been traveling and visiting grandchildren, so the restaurant was open inconsistently,” George says. “To complement the motel, it needed to be open regularly for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
George’s food was so popular that Wendover residents routinely drove to Wells to eat at his restaurant.
“We had a restaurant there for 10 years, and eventually closed it and moved back to Wells,” he says.
George says he never planned a restaurant career.
“Things just happened, and one thing led to another,” he says.
George learned from his father, a longtime restaurateur. A native of an area near Canton, China, George grew up in Hong Kong and graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of New York, earning a degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in computer systems.
He met his wife, Marina, a student at the institute. The couple wanted to raise their children, Lauren and Tina, in a friendly town.
In 1979, they moved to Wells, intending to stay only six months.
“My father asked me to help him run the El Rancho restaurant, so I took a leave of absence from my job as a computer systems analyst,” George says.
Six months later, instead of returning to work in California, George and Marina settled in Wells, enthralled with the wide-open spaces and friendliness.
In 1984, George and his father, Art, built Chinatown, an enterprise that encompassed a restaurant, motel and a casino-lounge. They later expanded to apartments and an RV park.
George served two terms as mayor from 1987 to 1995, winning his first election by only two votes.
“At the time, the town needed an economic vision for the future with longterm goals and a plan to attain them,” he says. “The city council and I worked well together, so we accomplished a lot.”
A library and medical facility were built. The town’s water and sewer systems were upgraded. Recreational facilities and the local industrial park were improved.
Wells’ economy has improved, most recently with the development of the Long Canyon Mine—a gold mine about 30 miles east of town operated by Newmont Mining Corp.
“For a few years, the geologists who worked on it stayed here at the motel,” George says. “I’m glad the project materialized. The mine will energize our town and bring more permanent residents.”
During summer, the motel is busy with tourists.
“We’re halfway between the Bay Area and Yellowstone National Park, so we have a lot people stopping for the night,” George says.
Despite living in an isolated rural area, George has kept up to date with technology and computer systems.
“I’m working on my own project,” he says. “I’m starting to put up a prototype on the drawing board and plan to build it within the next few months. Within about a year, I’ll be able to talk about it.”
As for his upcoming 70th birthday, George’s children have told him he will have a celebration with them and his four grandchildren. Tina, an attorney, owns a law firm in Las Vegas. Lauren is a finance manager at Genentech in San Francisco.
“They told me they’re planning something,” he says. “But it will be a surprise.”
Beto is Back in the Kitchen
When Wells residents heard Jesus “Beto” Aboite would be leasing a restaurant and bar in town, he started hearing requests.
“People wanted the food that I made at the Four-Way Café and Casino, like prime rib and homemade soups,” says Beto. “We’ll oer some specials, too, as we see what people want.”
Betaso’s Restaurant and Bar had its grand opening last month. It is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While Beto manages the restaurant, his wife, Aurora, runs the bar.
Last year, the couple heard George Yan was looking for someone to lease the businesses.
“I’ve always dreamed of having my own restaurant, and Aurora has always wanted to run a bar,” says Beto, who was a dishwasher at the Four-Way when he was a teenager.
Wanting to improve his culinary skills, Beto worked as a sous-chef at restaurants in Elko and eventually came back to the Four-Way to supervise the kitchen staff.
“We’re relying on our family to help us get it started,” says Aurora. “My daughter, Jesenia, moved back from Las Vegas last summer, so she’ll be a big help. We’re excited. George and Marina have told us they really want to see us succeed.”