There's a specific chain of events that happens any time a San Francisco landmark is in danger of shutting down, getting evicted or otherwise closing up shop. It goes something like: 1. Local institution announces imminent closure. 2. Fans of said institution (and scores of people who never actually went) lament the state of San Francisco while planning final, mournful visits. 3. Somebody tries to figure out how to save the place. In the case of Sam Wo's legendary service, the chain of events ran its course in under three days time, and there's a chance the century-old greasy Chinese joint could be spared by the Health Department tomorrow.
After Friday night's service saw long lines waiting until the early morning hours Saturday, the restaurant closed the doors as scheduled and they remained closed for the rest of the weekend. Although owner David Ho, who has run the place for the past three decades, previously told the Chronicle that everything was "too old" to be salvaged to the point where it could pass fire and health inspections, his daughter Julie seems to have a little more resolve. "The restaurant is my life," Julie Ho told the Chronicle for a Saturday piece, explaining that "nothing is definite" beyond the weekend closure.
The Hos will have a chance to make their case before a Health Department hearing tomorrow, when they will need to present their plans to bring the place back up to code. According to a spokesperson for the Health Department, "everything from venting to plumbing to electrical all need to be upgraded" to pass muster. As we've seen, there's plenty of support for keeping the place afloat and even the landlord of 813 Washington is on board. So, there's a real possibility the place could be back in business after some extensive renovations and a little elbow grease.
Renovations aside, the staff will probably have to clean up their act as well. During Sam Wo's last health inspection in March (which you can read online in PDF form here), the inspector found violations ranging from improper food storage to rodent feces on the kitchen floor.
Still, Julie Ho is hopeful for her dad's business. As she neatly summed up San Francisco's cult-foodies: "people are so very loyal to that restaurant and San Francisco is a city where nothing goes down easy. I'm hoping for the best and that the neighbors and supporters will rally."