Last handmade US fortune cookie shop facing crunch of rising rent

World Today

In the city of San Francisco, skyrocketing rents have not only put the financial squeeze on residents, but businesses, too.

That includes some that have held a special place in the community for generations.

CGTN’s Mark Niu has details.

It’s a uniquely Chinese-American treat valued for its good fortune.

That wisdom guides The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco’s Chinatown the last place in the country to make these confections by hand.

With the help of a customized waffle maker, a worker can make up to 400 cookies an hour.

“When you open it up, you have to catch it in four seconds. Four seconds you got to make them. Look at that one is more than four seconds, I try to make it. It doesn’t work,” said Kevin Chan the co-owner.

Even though the shop satisfies a seemingly endless stream of customers, it’s not immune to economic misfortune.

Chan says in recent years their rent has tripled, putting the factory in jeopardy until he managed to strike a last-minute deal.

Take a walk on the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, and it’s easy to see signs of just how difficult it is to pay the rent. In fact, the property site Zumper just released its national rental report which indicates San Francisco’s is the highest in the country. A one bed-room apartment goes for about $3700 a month. At number two was New York, which was nearly a thousand dollars cheaper.

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been in business for 57 years.

Nancy is Kevin’s mother.When asked if anything has changed about the way she’s made cookies over the decades, the answer is simple – no.

When asked whether he should bring in automated machines or just rent a just small space for deliveries only, Kevin’s answer is also a simple – no.

“I want them to come in to see how the cookie is made personally and get a feel of it, and also to get to know the city, get to know Chinatown, get to spend some money in the community,” said Kevin Chan the co-owner.

With green tea and strawberry flavors, Golden Gate is a crowd pleaser even offering customized fortunes.

“Happiness is Serving You” has been their motto from day one. With grandma, son, and granddaughter all working here together, that’s the way they want to keep it for generations to come.