SF City Leaders Hope to Save 100-Year-Old Landmark Restaurant

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A landmark restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown is closing its doors because the owner said he can’t continue to lose money during the shutdown – but city leaders are hoping to help save it.

The Far East Café planned to celebrate its 100 year anniversary with a big party. Instead, it now plans to close.

The streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown went quiet before the first COVID-19 shutdown in March.

“We’re losing money day after day,” said Bill Lee, owner of the Far East Café.

Lee said business never returned.

As word spreads that the restaurant known for big family banquets and private booths is closing after 100 years in business, concern is growing.

“A lot of people really care about the Far East Café,” Lee said. “A lot of people feel sorry, they say anything they can do to help.”

This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced legislation they hope will be a lifeline for the Far East Café and other struggling restaurants in Chinatown.

They’re hoping to secure $1.9 million to pay restaurants to feed people in need in the neighborhood.

Lifelong customer Douglas Yep hopes it’s not too late.

“Restaurants like this need to be saved,” he said. “It’s Chinese history right here.”

Lee said he will close at the end of the month but plans to talk to investors about the city’s plan.

Does he think it’s enough to come back next year?

“We don’t know yet,” he said.

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