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Lunar New Year marks a new phase for Mei Mei

The dumpling company debuts a new factory and cafe in South Boston.

Mei Mei founder and chef Irene Li greets the camera outside the South Boston factory with two plates of dumplings, in focus.
Irene Li has dumplings waiting for us in South Boston. Courtesy

Lunar New Year marks a whole new phase for Mei Mei. A new headquarters for the Boston dumpling company is set to open during the Chinese New Year festival, which will bring together Mei Mei’s growing wholesale business, cooking classes, and award-winning Chinese-American fare in an innovative location. 

On Saturday, Jan. 21, celebrate the grand opening in South Boston with dumpling-making demos, tours of the brand-new manufacturing facility — and of course, plenty of dumplings and Double Awesomes.

The scallion-pancake egg sandwiches; signature flavors like Lemongrass Pork, Cheddar Scallion Potato, and Cumin Lamb Dumplings; and more items throwing it back to Mei Mei’s food truck menu will be available at the South Boston cafe. The new location will also allow Mei Mei Dumplings to scale production and distribution to supply more grocers and restaurants. 

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The dumpling factory and cafe is part of South Boston’s redeveloping Iron Works building, the site of a former electrical manufacturing company spanning two full blocks. Castle Island Brewing Company, pickleball court PKL, and other local businesses are its neighbors. 

“We’re creating a dumpling factory with a brewery vibe,” says Mei Mei partner Alyssa Lee. The new facility is entirely electric, designed to minimize the business’ carbon footprint. Through NuMarket, Mei Mei raised more than $188,000 in small, community-sourced investments to fund its South Boston expansion. 

The female-fronted company is led by chef Irene Li, the mei mei (younger sister) of her family. Since the food truck days, the brand has always connected food to its community, from sourcing transparently from regional farms and producers to using its shuttered cafe as a hub for hunger relief to restaurant employees during the pandemic shutdown. Recently, Li was among five Leadership Award honorees named by the James Beard Foundation. “Irene Li has shown her resilience by responding to her community’s immediate needs, while holding true to her values,” the restaurant industry’s leading association said.

The Mei Mei Dumpling Factory and Cafe will begin hosting in-person dumpling-making classes in late January (in the meantime, catch them online). The Lunar New Year Grand Opening runs from noon until 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tickets will go on sale in the beginning of January and will be announced in Mei Mei’s email newsletter.

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