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Once a Bay Area Restaurant Empire, Chow Is Now Bankrupt

Also: How SF’s gay bars hooked up

The interior of Chow
The Church street Chow, in more prosperous times

Chow has declared bankruptcy

Chow, a local chain of restaurants that — one by one — closed all of its locations in the past couple years, filed for bankruptcy on October 21, the San Francisco Business Times reports. The filing lists an address of 215 Church street for the company, which is where the first Chow was located. (That spot later became Cook Shop, aka the SF restaurant most likely to become a true crime podcast.) According to its bankruptcy filings, Chow LLC had debts amounting to $3,757,160 and assets of only $75K.

The Chron just released a nice package on migration through the lens of food

Discussions around the topic of immigration are only going to heat up as the 2020 presidential election approaches, and it’s interesting to see how journalists are approaching the narrative beyond the whole “racist in a coffee shop” angle. The SF Chronicle’s food section just released a bundle of stories on the topic, many of them eye-opening personal essays that bring home the challenges of assimilation (and appropriation) as well as how rich a patchwork the American food world is. The best way to find all the stories is via this Twitter thread from Chron food section chief (and long-ago Eater SF scribe) Paolo Lucchesi.

The new executive chef at the Westin St. Francis is reportedly a martial artist

Fernando Reyes has been appointed to the top culinary position at the Westin St. Francis, where he’ll oversee the Oak Room and Caruso’s, as well as the hotel’s other food operations. According to an announcement of his appointment, he also enjoys playing “baseball and soccer and practicing martial arts,” which is certainly one way to keep rowdy diners in line.

SF’s gay bars created a phone tree to avoid police harassment

In SF’s bad old days, the cops would regularly roust LGBTQ folks for the crime of being LGBTQ, a situation that led to the historic Compton’s Cafeteria riot of 1966. But even after that civil action, bars and their owners still faced harassment from the SFPD, which would reportedly go from spot to spot shaking down patrons and publicans. That spurred the creation of the Tavern Guild, which the Bay Area Reporter published a look back at this week. At its height, 86 different SF establishments would call each other to warn of police activity, support each other with distributors and licensing agencies, and help out sick or disabled bartenders.


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