A beloved, inexpensive restaurant in San Francisco’s Financial District that was facing a sudden rise in rent along with back rent payments appears to have been saved by loyal patrons, a news story aired by KPIX, and a change of heart from its landlord. Yo Yo’s at 318 Pacific Avenue, near the intersection with Battery Street ,was known for long lunch lines full of office workers who waited to get their hands on its delicious and affordable Japanese noodle soup, sushi, and chicken teriyaki.
KPIX, which has numerous employees who frequent Yo Yo’s since the KPIX newsroom is located around the corner from the restaurant, aired a story last week that let viewers know the popular mom-and-pop restaurant was in danger of closing. Just days after the report aired, owners Lydia and Joseph Lee said their business jumped by 40% which gave them the income needed to survive the rent hike. One example of the community stepping up was the John Yehall Chin Elementary School on Broadway which sent Yo Yo’s a $200 order for food for their students.
It didn’t stop there. “One time, a customer came in and he only ordered the udon and he gave us $100 and said, ‘You guys don’t close, OK?’ He comes like two, sometimes three, times a week,” Joseph Lee told SFGate which reports that Yo Yo’s rent was raised 6%. The landlord had also been requesting rent payments from last year that the owners couldn’t pay due to closures forced by the pandemic. The Lees told SFGate that the landlord has dropped that request. It’s unclear exactly what spurred the landlord’s change of heart but you can’t help but assume it was from the KPIX reports and the outpouring of support.
“There are a lot of good people in this world still,” Joseph Lee told SFGate. Yo Yo’s has been serving customers in the Financial District since 1988. Lydia, who was one of the original employees, ended up buying the restaurant in 1997. The restaurant has not seen a drastic rise in prices in years with its chicken teriyaki costing $6, its udon costing $4.50, and the soba running you $5.25.