Workers at Hong Kong Lounge II are seeking a return to employment after a devastating fire caused by a gas explosion outside the business on February 8. But that won’t involve serving baked pork buns and pea shoots at the beloved dim sum restaurant — at least not yet.
Hong Kong Lounge II won’t be “opening anytime soon,” proprietors write on the business’ website in their first-yet update to customers.
“Thank you for your understanding and support,” they add, emphasizing there were no injuries during the explosion and fire. “We would like everyone know our guests and employees exited the restaurant safely from the burning building.”
That fire, which burned for more than two hours, was fueled by a gas line ruptured by a Verizon-contracted work crew installing fiber optic cable below the street outside Hong Kong Lounge II.
Approximately 25 employees of the restaurant were affected by the closure, according to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. About half of them were able to get other jobs. As for the rest, 14 recently attended a workshop for displaced staff, at which the Office of Economic and Workforce Development team shared resources like information on unemployment insurance, healthcare, job placement assistance, and job training info.
“No one can fully prepare for a devastating event like this, and Mayor Breed has directed us to help entrepreneurs begin recovering immediately and ensure that their employees are fully supported throughout any transition,” said Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, according to a spokesperson.
“Through accessible technical assistance and financial support, we’re able to help beloved neighborhood restaurants like Hong Kong Lounge II as they take their next steps.”
Hong Kong Lounge II and businesses affected by the explosion, such as an office of Huckleberry Youth Programs, are eligible for up to $10,000 through San Francisco’s Small Business Disaster Relief Fund. A spokesperson for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development expects Hong Kong Lounge II to apply for those funds.
Restaurateur Annie Ho opened her acclaimed restaurant in 2012. Previously, she owned the original Hong Kong Lounge, which still operates farther down Geary. But Ho sold her first Hong Kong Lounge in order to downsize with the more intimate Hong Kong Lounge II.
Eater SF has attempted to contact the restaurant without success; stay tuned for updates.