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A Legendary Chinatown Restaurant Is at Risk of Closing After a Century in Business

Sam Wo, one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown, could close if new owners don’t step in

SFChronicleChinatown Stephen Lam/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

Sam Wo Restaurant, which is believed to be one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown, could close if a buyer can’t be found, the San Francisco Standard reports. Owner David Jitong Ho tells the outlet that at 68 years old, he’s ready to retire after 42 years of running the restaurant. The business’s current lease at 713 Clay Street expires on January 2025, and the Ho family hopes a new owner will step in before then — otherwise, Sam Wo investor and co-founder Steven Lee says they’ll auction off the restaurant’s historic items and photos.

The restaurant is believed to have been founded just after the 1906 earthquake and has been in nearly continuous business since its founding, other than a closure from 2012 to 2015 when the restaurant shifted locations within Chinatown. The Sam Wo team hopes for a younger family to take on the business.

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