Delaware Valley businesswoman and entrepreneur, Margaret Kuo, a James Beard Foundation Featured Chef, heads the The Kuo Group, a real estate holding company with three successful restaurants in Delaware County and the Main Line; Mandarin, Media and Wayne. Also active in community affairs, business and service groups, Mrs. Kuo’s many honors include the March of Dimes Business Service Award, the Philadelphia Journal Award for Outstanding Women in Business, and being named to the list of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business for 1999.
She was awarded a Texaco company scholarship to attend NAWBO conference in Washington DC in 1998 and was elected a Pennsylvania Representative to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1995. Her many awards for business leadership and community service include being named a Pennsylvania Shining Star in 1993 and the “Panache” Award by The Delaware Valley Restaurant Association in 1997. As recognized by critics and foodies alike, she made tremendous contributions to Philadelphia’s restaurant renaissance in the 1970s by introducing an entire genre of Chinese regional cuisines to the area.
An advocate of public service and higher education, Mrs. Kuo fulfilled a long time goal by completing a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1996, taking a short leave of absence from her successful business interests.
Born in the Manchurian Province of mainland China, Mrs. Kuo was the fourth of five children born into a family of educators and scholars. Her grandfather was principal of an elementary school. During World War II, her father, a successful businessman, received a commendation from the U.S. Army for assistance he rendered. He also served as a Senator, elected to represent his home province in Manchuria. In a period of unrest as the Communists gained power Mrs. Kuo’s family emigrated to Taiwan where she grew up and was educated. Her chief passion as a young girl was ballet which she studied for many years, often presenting solo performances at various colleges and on public television. After graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Margaret taught high school math and general science for a year.
Receiving a scholarship, Mrs. Kuo came to the United States to pursue higher education where she met her husband, Warren, a fellow student at the University of Connecticut. The young couple moved to the Philadelphia area where they started a family and their successful business ventures. At first Margaret worked as a chemist and research assistant at Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, EF Houton Oil & Chemical Company, and Allied Chemical.
Since Margaret Kuo was raised in a world where culinary arts were regarded on a level with art, literature and music with recipes treasured as works of art, establishing a restaurant was a natural follow-up. Creativity and business innovation have been routine since the opening of Kuo’s first Peking restaurant, recognized at the time by Elaine Tate, Food Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as the first to offer Chinese Royal Banquet including authentic Peking duck, 30 years ago. Gracing the cover of Main Line Today Magazine in January 2003 closely followed the honor of a featured review by Craig LaBan in the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine. She has been honored four times with a “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine. The Granite Run Mall Peking is often used as a model of success for a high end restaurant in a mall by mall managers as they seek to attract new business. Zagat Reviews and many accolades as Best Restaurant and Best Chinese Restaurant have followed.
Margaret and her husband Warren have raised two sons, Mark and Paul, both Boston University graduates who have joined the family business. Completing the Kuos immediate family are three grandchildren: Clarissa, Evan and Henna.