The restaurant is so popular it is booked as far out as two years in advance for anniversaries and other special occasions.
Kee Joon Lee opened Empress of China in the 60s with a vision of a rooftop restaurant with views overlooking Portsmouth Square and the city. He’s closing it after losing his lease. The building’s owners have now put it up for sale for $25 million.
He wanted to serve people not only of Chinese descent, he wanted to introduce the
Chinese cuisine to everyone — Westerners, Easterners, foreigners — in an exquisite, elegant manner,” said Lee’s daughter, Barbara Yee, 80. “When it started, people couldn’t even go up there to eat unless you wore a tie. If you didn’t have a tie, they had a tie ready for you.”
Asian Artwork which occupies the mezzanine is also closing Wednesday.
You can read what the building’s owners are saying about all this in the SF Examiner.