Empress of China

H.K.’s crowning achievement in business partnership, fundraising, and public outreach was the co-founding of the landmark Empress of China “roof garden” restaurant, in the heart of San Francisco Chinatown. In partnership with managing director and nationally known restaurateur Kee Joon, H.K. became the enthusiastic public voice and its corporate secretary. The restaurant operated from 1966 until 2014, and was the premier Chinese restaurant in the city.

The Empress of China was a popular destination for many locals, tourists, and celebrities over the years. In the San Francisco Magazine Diner’s Choice, 1968-69, an article featuring the Empress read, “In less than two short years, this magnificent roof garden retreat, the only high-rise Chinese restaurant on this continent, has won more honors than most dining places in Chinatown combined.”

Celebrity Photo Gallery

The lobby entrance of the Empress of China on Grant Avenue was lined with many photographs of celebrities who dined at the restaurant, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Mick Jagger, and the famous Carol Doda. The Empress was their sought-after place to eat and hang out. Other local and national politicians, princes and princesses, the chancellor of West Germany, countless movie stars, and sport celebrities also frequented the Empress.

How many of the celebrities in the photo gallery can you identify?

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