(SAN FRANCISCO) This year marks the 100th anniversary of Far East Cafe in Chinatown. Bill Lee, the owner of the Restaurant, has planned for big events to celebrate the milestone of the restaurant’s business for a century. Instead the pandemic and the new Shelter-In-Place Order has forced him to close the restaurant on the New Year Eve.
“December 31 will be the last day of business for Far East Cafe,” Lee said in an interview to confirm the decision made by him and his shareholders. “I love Far East Cafe. I don’t want to give up. But I have no choice. We can’t afford to keep the restaurant up for running without any revenues from the business and resources from the City.”
Far East Cafe has been a part of many people’s daily life for the last 20 years, not only for the Chinatown community, but also for many elected officials who held numerous fundraising and celebration parties in the restaurant. Members of the Chinatown community who have heard of the decision try to save the restaurant from shutting down.
Far East Cafe is the oldest and one of the largest restaurants in the San Francisco Chinatown. It was opened on 631 Grant Avenue in 1920. Lee took over the ownership in 1999 to be the third owner. The founder, the second owner and Lee all kept the original English name of the Restaurant as “Far East Cafe”. Lee changed the Chinese name from 遠東樓 to 康年海鮮酒家.
Lee invested over $100 million into Far East Cafe when he bought the restaurant in 1999. There was only one floor on the ground level under the first and second ownership. Lee made it into a two-story restaurant with a big banquet hall on the second floor which can accommodate up to 68 tables for large gatherings and events. It has become a famous and popular gathering and party venue for the Chinatown family associations, politicians, community leaders and private weddings.