HEATHCOTE residents have been begging for a Chinese restaurant for years and they finally have one, the Red Dragon.
The Red Dragon opened on February 9.
Owner and head chef Cristina Fairthorne, who has more than 20 years' experience working in Chinese restaurants in Bendigo, spoke to the Bendigo Advertiser via a translator.
She choose Heathcote because she would often have customers drive from Heathcote to get food from New China or House of Kong, where she worked.
"There was a real need in Heathcote for a Chinese restaurant," she said.
"The customers are lovely.
"They call me after they have eaten to tell me they enjoyed the food - that never happened in Bendigo.
"We had a lion and dragon dance when we opened, the dances are a way to bless the restaurant.
"Everyone really loved that - I feel appreciative of how kind Heathcote residents have been. "
Ms Fairthorne, who is a first-time business owner, said she hopes to grow the business and fit into the community.
"I live in Bendigo," she said.
"But I think I will move to Heathcote after I have seen how beautiful it is."
The Red Dragon specialises in spicy dishes, such as nasi goreng and spicy roast pork.
Bendigo and surrounding areas have a prominent Chinese community
The Bendigo Tourism website says that the gold rush of the 1850s saw many thousands of Chinese arrive in Bendigo.
"Within 10 years the Chinese miners and merchants made up 20 per cent of the Bendigo population," the website page continues.
"In the 1870s an impressive imperial dragon known as Loong was sent from China.
"He is now the oldest Chinese dragon in the world and is the highlight of Australia’s oldest event; the Bendigo Easter Festival.
"While most of the Chinese gold miners returned home when the alluvial goldfields declined, a small population remained to form the Bendigo Chinese community which has continued to influence the city."