clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A North Park Icon of Chinese American Cuisine Is Still Awaiting Its Next Chapter

The owners of Peking Restaurant are looking for a new tenant for the University Avenue space

A Chinese-themed facade of a restaurant.
Peking Restaurant.
Stephanie Fong

The longevity of a restaurant has always been a tenuous prospect, and it’s hard to imagine many with the good fortune to keep going for nearly 90 years, a milestone that Peking Restaurant reached before ultimately shuttering in 2019. For a great deal of those decades, the North Park Cantonese restaurant was run by the Fong family, first by Leo Fong and then by his son Kenneth and Kenneth’s wife Maria, whose daughters Lesley, Jen, and Stephanie all spent time working at the establishment.

But more than four years since it closed, the University Avenue space still sits empty. The Fongs tell Eater that after an initial flurry of interest back in 2019, the family eventually chose new tenants who spent a year and a half working on the property, gutting the inside of the restaurant before various impediments prompted them to give up the project.

A neon sign on a restaurant.
The facade at night, pre-closing.
Stephanie Fong

Among those challenges is the gloriously retro facade topped with a neon-lit sign displaying its original name, Pekin Cafe, and what remained its most well-known dish, the Chinese-American classic chop suey. Given the storefront’s historic status, it cannot be removed from the site although real estate specialist Luke Kensen of House333, which is listing the space, says that it can be repainted.

Stephanie Fong says that her family still misses visiting with and cooking for their customers, who would come in regularly for bowls of wonton soup and plates of orange chicken. Though they would prefer that the site continue as a restaurant — perhaps another large-scale Chinese spot or an Asian food hall — the owners are also open to a different kind of business taking it over.

Kensen shared that the 3,500-square-foot space comes with city-approved permits and plans that could be transferred to the next tenants, along with a highly sought-after full liquor license that includes entertainment and cabaret offerings until midnight.

Inside an empty building.
The current interior.
Luke Kensen/House333

Peking Restaurant

2877 University Avenue, San Diego, California 92104