Empress Pavilion closes in Chinatown

There was a time — actually a long time — when the Empress Pavilion at the north end of Chinatown was packed with hundreds of downtown dim sum fans at lunch. Weekends were busy too for Chinese family celebrations, wedding dinners and dim sum brunches. The last few times I was in Bamboo Plaza the whole place felt sad and run down. The new owners of Empress Pavilion and the landlord have been squabbling about conditions and the rent, and the restaurant says it was evicted on Sunday. From the Daily Dish:

Empress Pavilion opened in April 1989, an enormous Hong Kong-style restaurant decorated in shades of pink, burgundy and aqua, on the second floor of Bamboo Plaza, and its dim sum immediately "packed them in," noted Ruth Reichl, then restaurant critic of the Los Angeles Times and former Gourmet magazine editor.

The original owners sold the restaurant in 2007 to a group of employees, including majority partners Ricky Chan and Joe Lee, chefs who were determined to continue the tradition of Empress Pavilion and keep the staff of more than 100 people. “Some of the ladies pushing the carts have worked here since the beginning,” said Stephanie Chan, a spokeswoman for Empress Pavilion and the daughter of Ricky Chan.

The owners said they were evicted on Sunday, unable to meet the demands of the plaza’s landlord. Stephanie Chan said that after a steady decline in business, partly due to the building’s disrepair and the absence of retail tenants, the restaurant's owners fell behind on the rent and ongoing negotiations with landlord Anek Bholsangngam were unsuccessful.

“I am saddened by the closing of Empress Pavilion,” said Martin Lee, one of the original owners, “and my thoughts and prayers go to all the team members that made Empress Pavilion a success for so many years.”

Photo from Empress Pavilion

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