The slip of a space that was Sam Wo. Photo from Sam Wo’s website.
Over a year ago, we reported on the closure of ~SAM WO~. The Chinatown institution had been around for more than 100 years, and was famed for its colorful clientele and staff, including Edsel Ford Fong, the world’s rudest waiter. The restaurant was shut down back in April 2012 by the Health Department over concerns about the building’s construction. Apparently, almost every component of the restaurant needed updating, from the electrical to the plumbing to the kitchen itself, which would cost an estimated $300K to bring up to code. After new lease negotiations with the landlord failed (the family was hoping for a reasonable new lease, but it didn’t happen), Sam Wo won’t be reopening in the historic location.
The Facebook group Save Sam Wo! has lots of information on the closure, including a statement from Julie Ho, the owners’ daughter. This video is worth a watch, too: it talks about the closure, and the community response to the the end of an era. The family is currently seeking a new space for the restaurant, and the building is on the market. Such an unfortunate ending for one of Chinatown’s most well-known (and quirky) places. 813 Washington St. at Grant.