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Chinatown Staple Empress Pavilion Closes After 23 Years

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The Empress Pavilion has closed its doors after 23 years. (Photo courtesy of Empress Pavilion.)
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No more dim sum at the Empress Pavilion. The 23-year-old Chinatown restaurant closed Sunday after the owners were evicted.

The LA Times reports that the once-popular lunchtime destination on Hill Street, which opened in 1989, had seen a decline in business lately. Its fortunes seemed tied to the languishing Bamboo Plaza, where it was situated on the second floor. The Times notes that the building is largely empty and the escalator that went directly to the restaurant hadn't been working in more than a year.

"I like to see everyone have good business. We all come up together," landlord Anek Bholsangngam said about his decision to evict the restaurant, which was behind on its rent and received its first eviction notice in January. "I feel sorry, too, but I don't know what else to do."

LA Observed's Kevin Roderick noted, "The last few times I was in Bamboo Plaza the whole place felt sad and run down."

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The original owners sold the restaurant in 2007 to a group of employees, including Ricky Chan and Joe Lee, chefs who worked to keep the existing staff of more than 100 people. “Some of the ladies pushing the carts have worked here since the beginning,” Ricky's daughter Stephanie Chan, a spokeswoman for the restaurant, told the Times' Daily Dish columnist Betty Hallock.

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