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Longtime Restaurant Owners Will Revive Historic Cathay House in Chinatown

New life for a neighborhood classic

The Sing Chong building in 2008
Mel via Flickr

In a major victory for Chinatown, the Yeo family of San Jose restaurants Straits and Sino will breathe new life into the historic Cathay House restaurant space, the Chronicle reports. The Chinese restaurant, bar, and banquet hall, which opened in 1939 in the Sing Chong building at the corner of Grant and California Streets, had lost its once considerable luster over the years, and quietly closed in the spring after its most recent owner retired. To bring it back, building owner Betty Louie recruited the Yeos, who will operate three of the four floors in the building with two discrete restaurants: Cathay House upstairs and 601 Dupont below.

Oakland’s Mister Important Design is remodeling the space, with 601 Dupont to open first, as soon as this summer: That will be a fast-casual restaurant on the ground floor in what was once a McDonald’s. Then, in the fall, Cathay House will open in the floors above, with a full bar (and a great view), Cantonese cuisine, and dim sum cart service. Above that, they’ll operate a large banquet hall space for events.

The Sing Chong building, 1910.
Photo via California Historical Society.

Chris Yeo opened the first Straits Cafe in the Outer Richmond with his parents in the ’80s, and now runs the business’s locations in Burlingame and San Jose with his wife Kelly and son Julian, the group’s culinary director. At one point, a Straits location operated at the Westfield Centre under the dome there, closing in 2014.

The Yeos return to San Francisco might also be tied to a return to vibrancy for Chinatown. There, exciting, multi-level projects like China Live and Mister Jiu’s, which has a new lounge level opening this summer, have built momentum for the neighborhood while helping to preserve its cultural legacy.