Owners: Bing Chiu Wong and Lai Mei Chen
Business: Mission Hunan Restaurant
Address: 2960 16th St. @ Mission St.
While Bing Chiu Wong and Lai Mei Chen arrived separately to San Francisco back in the early 1980s, they shared the same dream of a better life in a land that offered opportunity not available in their native China. The immigrants– like many other newcomers before and since – believed that hard work would eventually translate to family economic success in the U.S. The indefatigable pair eventually met, married and launched their idea for Mission Hunan Restaurant, with Bing Chiu Wong even leading the construction needed to transform a former flower shop in a century-old edifice into what would eventually become a beloved neighborhood mainstay.
In May, Mission Hunan Restaurant celebrated its 30-year anniversary at its longtime Mission and 16th streets location.
The success they sought and achieved for Mission Hunan Restaurant meant the Wongs were able to move to San Francisco’s Sunset District, where they raised three children, who have all worked at the eatery during summer breaks.
Life was also bettered for the numerous community members over the years who have been employed by Mission Hunan Restaurant. That currently translates to a dishwasher, three waitresses, two assistant cooks and seven cooks. One cook has been a fixture in the kitchen for eight years, while there was a manager once in that position for 13 years.
Such a good-sized staff is needed to prepare 300 meals a day, with dishes ranging from sweet and sour pork to Mongolian beef. To share in their success, the Wongs donate to various charities five or so times a year, showcasing that they are philanthropic community members — a community in which they long been part. It’s a community of neighbors, local workers and laborers who have made Mission Hunan Restaurant part of their daily routine.
A visit to the eatery reveals a host of regulars who consider the dining room an extension of their own home. Groups of locals who started eating at Mission Hunan Restaurant in their salad days now meet weekly for a three-hour break from their routine, with stories shared along with the tasty dishes for which they long.
Stop by Mission Hunan Restaurant – you’re sure to be hooked.