Sam Wo's has been a fixture in San Francisco's Chinatown for more than a century, but the last year has been hard. Coronavirus has forced restaurants across the world to shut their doors, and Chinatowns have been hit particularly hard. The virus first emerged in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, leaving businesses like Sam Wo fighting not just fear, but anti-Asian sentiment.
"All the Italian restaurants in North Beach were still busy and packed and then you went through the tunnel to Union Square and those guys had lines waiting to get in. And then you drive around Chinatown and it's completely empty," recalls Sam Wo's co-owner Steven Lee, describing the weeks before shutdown orders came in early last year.