Historic Mum’s Cafe in San Francisco’s Japantown Closing After 40 Years

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The iconic Mum’s Cafe in San Francisco’s Japantown is set to close after serving the community for four decades. The multi-generational restaurant is a casualty of a struggling local economy, higher rent and labor costs, and the impact of the pandemic.

Mum’s Cafe, famous for its Shabu Shabu dish, has been a beloved part of the community, with the Tam family working tirelessly to keep the restaurant going. The owner, Isadore Tam, came from Hong Kong in 1981 and worked his way up from dishwasher to owner. His daughter Winnie expressed her pride in her father’s accomplishments and the restaurant’s place in the community.

However, the decision to close was accelerated due to the pandemic and changing consumer habits. Food delivery apps, for example, have added pressure to already-struggling restaurants. Japantown has also been hit hard since the pandemic, and rising homelessness and crime rates in the area have made it difficult to attract customers.

The closure of Mum’s Cafe reflects a worrying trend of shuttered businesses in San Francisco, with many not returning due to the harsh economic environment. The city’s high rent, labor costs, and the lingering effects of the pandemic have made it increasingly difficult for private businesses to stay open.

In light of the situation, the Tam family has decided it’s time to move on, with 73-year-old Isadore Tam ready to retire. The closure of Mum’s Cafe marks the end of an era for a family business that has weathered many changes over the past 41 years.

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