How to Help the Owners of the Lotus Garden Restaurant?

Kathy Tang, the owner of the Lotus Garden Vietnamese restaurant on Mission Street that was shuttered after last week’s three-alarm fire, posted this desperate SOS on the Facebook page for the benefit concert that was help to help the victims of the blaze:

My name is Kathy Tang, the owner of Lotus Garden Vietnamese Restaurant. The great amount of fire burned my restaurant and will take a few months for them to just rebuild the whole building. oh my god how can my family and i survive. My restaurant is my and my husband’s only income.

My insurance will not pay for any lost income becauseĀ our business slow we dont make any profit (which makes sense because of the recent recession), they only paid for the damage of the restaurant. Please help us out we will really appreciate all your help. My email address is kathytang268@yahoo.com and my phone number is 415-216-9608 Please help my husband, my two little boys, and I out. We will not have any income until the restaurant is open again which isn’t for months and months.

My own semi-serious suggestion would be to create a pop-up version of Lotus Garden inside an existing (and underutilized) local restaurant. Like, say, Caffe Cozzolino? Mission Chinese Food showed that it can be done, and in the case of the Cozzolino space, I suspect a large number of Bernal Northsiders would be happy to patronize Caffe Lotus Garden.

Any other ideas on how the community might help?

PHOTO: Burrito Justice

27 thoughts on “How to Help the Owners of the Lotus Garden Restaurant?

  1. While I’m all for the community coming together to help people in crisis, I found the El Rio fundraiser to be a bit disingenuous. 12 people lost their homes, but the “Benefit for Victims of Fire” benefited only the 4 young people that the organizer was friends with, as far as I can tell. Now it’s clear that Lotus Garden was also not served. I understand it’s hard to track people in crisis down, but there should have been some effort to do so, or to rename the event “Benefit for Victims of Fire Who I Happen to Know.” I’ll happily be Lotus Garden’s first customer, wherever they reopen.

      • Two? I heard T&J is turning into a kid’s gym / art gallery. Is there another location rumored to be a restaurant? I’ve heard random chatter about the “home sweet home” place, but that the neighbors won’t let a restaurant go in there because it’ll attract rats. Just what I’ve heard….

        Apparently it is difficult to arrange the type of partnership you guys are suggesting. It sounds ideal to me, that they could use someone else’s kitchen at night, but I’m not in the business so I don’t know. Logistics are probably not worth the effort.

        But what about if they cook at La Cocina and then sell their food at coffee shops that don’t have vents (like all 3 around precita park – park bench, charile’s, and the not-yet-opened precita park cafe).

        But before any of these ideas work, the people who own Lotus Garden would have to be willing to make these changes, and who knows if/when they’ll be ready to do that after suffering such a huge loss. I doubt they feel like changing their business plans right now… but who knows. Maybe they will follow one of these suggestions and end up actually making a profit!

  2. Here’s an idea. I’ve sent the following note to Kathy. Perhaps if others follow we can quickly raise enough for them to survive and thrive again.

    Hi Kathy,

    Saw your call for help on the Bernalwood blog,
    We love your restaurant. I don’t know whether this would help, but I would be happy to give you a 0-interest loan for $500 payable in food at your restaurant if and when you re-open.

    Let me know,
    Guillaume

  3. The pop-up idea is brilliant! I was wondering how she was impacted, and naively thought that based on the El Rio event, she was fine. Her food is outstanding and I would seek her out. Finding her another location would be ideal. Caffe Cozzolino is almost too much to hope for, but kudos if bernalwood can pull it off. Alternatively, does anyone know anyone who could get her working nights at a place that is only open for breakfast/lunch?

  4. I am so bummed about this. My boyfriend and I dropped in there for the first time just a few days before the fire, and we raved and raved about the food we had. The night of the fire, we had been talking about how great it was to find a restaurant like that so close to my house. I have been secretly hoping that the damage to Lotus Garden was not as bad as it sounded from initial reports but no such luck. I really hope the owners are able to figure something out.

    By the way, I hope this reminds people to purchase renter’s insurance if you’re renting. It’s not very expensive, and when you need it, you really need it. My last apartment burned nearly to the ground right after I moved out of it and all of my former neighbors were displaced. No one had insurance, and those who were rent controlled had no choice but to leave the city.

  5. Another Lotus Garden fan here. The Cafe Cozzolino suggestion is brilliant. Or, maybe 331 Cortland would allow the Tang family to sell to-go food (last I heard, there were 1 or possibly 2 vacancies coming up)?

  6. I love the 331 idea! I’ve always been surprised that LG is as empty as it often is, given how good the food is. I would absolutely eat there.

    I would also purchase a “gift certificate” now for their to-be reopened restaurant, if they wanted to go that route. It’s a good and simple idea.

    Kudos to Bernalwood for getting the discussion going!

  7. Is this something Kickstarter.com could be used for effectively? Donations that result in benefits when the restaurant is back up and running?

    331 Cortland is a great idea. Maybe a Bahn Mi stand?

  8. looove the pop-up idea at cozzolino…or a bahn mi stand at 331…or both! how can we help get this started?

  9. I would like to suggest that Kathy could also use some legal advice on what insurance should pay for and how to proceed. Insurance companies always seem to deny claims right away.
    Perhaps there is an attorney in the community who could take some time with her, pro bono.

  10. As was pointed out to me by a friend, the insurance company seemed to deny the loss of income claim because the restaurant couldn’t show any income. I guess that’s a caution to keep your books in order.

  11. I would gladly buy a gift certificate now to use at Lotus Garden when they reopen later. In addition to providing cash needed now (say raising $3K by selling 30 gift certificates of $100 each) it provides an opportunity for this local business to strengthen ties to customers and help drive word of mouth for their re-opening. In effect, the community is stepping in where the commercial market (insurance/bank) won’t – a family business would be borrowing $ at zero interest from local investors and paying it back when they able. Hopefully they will be back up and running again soon.

  12. Remember when Just for You used to do brunch at the old Moki’s spot? I think they should look into partnering with someone like Sam at Moonlight to see if they can serve dinner there nightly. I think Moonlight closes at 6.

    I also think Toby’s idea is great.

  13. We’ve loved Kathy’s food since since we moved to the neighborhood in ’03. Her husband really knows his way around broth! She has always emphasized the white tablecloth / service /dining aspects while neglecting the fact that what the neighborhood really wants is pho for dinner! And I think her business has suffered as a result. This is really an opportunity for her to simplify: just think, pho and banh mi on Cortland! Lots of customers! I’m really happy to see all of the positive comments above – please keep us posted. We want to help!

  14. Word, Sean D. I’ve been a patron of Lotus Garden since it was located where Shiso now resides. Even though Lotus Garden makes the most delicious pork pho in town, we often travel to the Tenderloin for a more varied pho menu.

    Charge us the $1 more per bowl all day long, Kathy – we don’t really care. Just give us Pho Ga and all the rest. We know it’s not authentic to eat pho at dinner and we’re totally asking you to cave in to popular demand – but pho is what we want at night when it’s cold and we want comfort.

  15. Pingback: Lotus Garden Vietnamese Restaurant Set to Reopen | Bernalwood

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