While work crews sift through the charred damage left behind in Wednesday’s gas explosion and three-alarm fire, the future of popular dim sum restaurant Hong Kong Lounge II remains unclear. The mixed-use building at 3300 Geary Boulevard that housed upstairs residential units and the downstairs restaurant has been red-tagged, or declared unsafe for entry, as Mayor London Breed’s office reported in an official disaster update this morning. But two possible relief efforts might be cause for cautious optimism.
Hong Kong Lounge II has achieved local institution status — its rich pork buns, hefty har gow, and perfect pea shoots have earned it a place on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list and Eater SF’s tally of the city’s 38 essential restaurants. Similarly named Hong Kong Lounge farther down Geary is not affiliated with Hong Kong Lounge II. Annie Ho, Hong Kong Lounge II’s owner, once owned the original Hong Kong Lounge, then sold it and opened her new restaurant in 2012. Eater SF has reached out to Hong Kong Lounge II for comment on the fire, but hasn’t heard back.
According to SFFD chief Joanne Hayes-White, Wednesday’s fire was caused when a contractor for Verizon struck a gas line while installing fiber optic cable below the street outside. The fire burned for two hours as PG&E worked to turn off the flow of gas to the area. Meanwhile, the flames torched Hong Kong Lounge II and two other buildings, which have been yellow tagged — they’re not inhabitable, but safe to enter to retrieve belongings.
When Hong Kong Lounge II caught fire, workers rushed lunchtime diners through the kitchen and out the back of the restaurant safety. There were no reported injuries.
As Hong Kong Lounge II plots its path forward, ardent fans Sean Jacobus and Britney Ziegler want to help. They’ve set up a gofundme disaster relief page for Hong Kong Lounge II, which they call their favorite restaurant, where they hope to raise $10,000. “All donations to be given to the employees who are without work during the Chinese New Year,” the couple writes.
That $10,000 would match the more formal disaster relief funds available from the city. While a business like Hong Kong Lounge II may receive insurance in a situation like this one, the delay between filing claims and receiving funds could be long. In the meantime, the business can apply for $10,000 from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development toward “inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for a new lease, employee salaries, or other expenses to stabilize cash flow.”
“Our team has been on the ground working directly with impacted businesses to understand their immediate needs and connect employees to workforce services,” Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said according to a press release.
Eater has reached out to Torres’ office for added details. Stay tuned for updates as the future of this beloved San Francisco business unfolds.