The ex-owner of Hong Kong Lounge and Hong Kong Lounge II in the Richmond, 58-year-old Ming Lian Zhou, received a sentence Tuesday of six months in communal confinement in a halfway house, followed by six months home detention and two years of probation, as the Chronicle reports.
Zhou was investigated over five years ago and ordered by the U.S. Labor Department to pay over $90,000 in unpaid overtime to his employees, something that he stubbornly tried to get out of doing not once, but twice. First, he signed government forms claiming he had paid the employees when he had not, coercing them to do the same, and then when authorities discovered this they had him pay the monies directly to them so they could issue government checks to the employees themselves. He was then nabbed back in 2015 when it was discovered that he was forcing the employees to sign those checks back over to him.
He ultimately pleaded guilty in late 2016 to a felony charge of concealing a material fact from a government agency.
Hong Kong Lounge II, in Laurel Heights, has received some wider acclaim than its larger progenitor in the Outer Richmond, and the restaurant's primary owner, Annie Ho, has said that Zhou is no longer involved in the business at all. Michael Bauer has in recent years been including it on his Top 100 list, saying its dim sum is great but the restaurant also "just as good at night."
Zhou's is one of several similar cases involving Bay Area restaurateurs allegedly mistreating employees or failing to pay wages. In 2014, the owners of Yank Sing were similarly given a drubbing by the Labor Department and forced to pay back $4 million in back wages to employees, most of them immigrants who did not speak English. More recently, the owners of Burma Superstar have been embroiled in a similar suit, this one brought by several former employees, though that remains unresolved.