Tech worker and former Miss SF Chinatown takes over family business

Chelsea Hung is the owner of Washington Bakery and Restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown, a business started by her mother almost three decades ago.

The San Francisco native had moved to New York City and was working in tech.

Then an unexpected life change came in 2018.

“My mom gave me a call and said I think I’m going to sell the restaurant and I just want to retire,” Hung said.

She quit her job, moved back to San Francisco and took over the business that her mother, Tilly Tsang, worked hard to build.

“I’m so surprised. I don’t think they can work out,” Tsang said since she initially couldn’t speak Cantonese well.

But running the business has changed that .

“I’m so appreciative. Chelsea doing all these things. She’s working so hard,” said Tsang.

“It was important to me because I wanted to continue my family’s legacy as well as supporting the Chinatown community,” said Chelsea.

In 2016, Chelsea was crowned Miss San Francisco Chinatown.

“It was such an amazing experience. It was 2 weeks of really learning about my culture,” said Hung.

Chinatown is her second home.

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She felt a responsibility to keep her mother’s bakery and restaurant open, having seen many longtime businesses close in the area.

“Especially with the older generation not having their son or daughter take over the family businesses,” said Chelsea.

But it was a challenging journey made more difficult by the pandemic.

“Just trying to adapt to this new normal. There just seems to be so many things against us, even thoughts like maybe we need to close. Maybe this is time, but we’re still here. We’re still trying to survive, said Hung.

Surviving and helping the community at the same time.

She’s partnering with a nonprofit and the city to provide meals for those who need help.

It’s been fpur years since Chelsea took the reins of mom’s business.

Despite the hardships brought on by the pandemic, she has decided to take on even more work.

Her father decided to retire from his restaurant business also here in Chinatown.

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So Hung took over last July.

Dad Henry Hung has owned the well-known R & G Lounge since 1985, a Cantonese seafood restaurant that attracts locals and visitors.

“It was an honor when he asked. Can’t say no to my dad,” said Hung.

Henry Hung said over the years, he’s expanded the size of his restaurant.

Despite his success, he wants his daughter to forge her own path.

“Do it your own way. You don’t need to follow me,” said Henry Hung when asked what advice he’d give his daughter.

He said coping with the pandemic is an invaluable lesson for Chelsea,

“Something you learn not from the school, the life experience.”

Hung hopes to make her mark by building a larger customer base.

“I want to promote it more to our generation. Be on social media,” said Hung.

Determination and resiliency are key.

“The big part is how you overcome those challenges,” she said. “I feel like if I’m able to do this and survive during a pandemic for both restaurants, I think I can do anything.”

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