According to Chan, whose mother co-founded the factory in 1962, monthly rent for the shop on Ross Alley three years ago was about $1,400. Now, it is “nearing $6,000.”
“We’re still alive because I can manage right now,” said Chan, noting that he is not sure about keeping the business afloat after the next lease renewal which is set to come up in two or three years.
Chan also revealed how the business is struggling to keep up with increased overhead costs, including the rising price of ingredients and the city’s mandated $15-an-hour minimum wage for employees.
Golden Gate, which produces up to 15,000 cookie products daily, is open seven days per week. The cookies are all made by hand by two to three part-time employees. To finish orders, sometimes Chan and his mother help by working until 2 a.m.
Chan also lamented over other factory-made cookies, which he says have “devalued the quality of the fortune cookie” as they “don’t taste the same.”
Made from a secret recipe only Chan’s mother knows, Golden Gate’s cookies are folded by hand and then baked on machinery — the same way they’ve been prepared since 1952.
Since their machines are too old, moving to a different location is an option for the business.
Chan had hoped that being part of San Francisco’s Legacy Business Program would make some difference but he says, “Being a legacy is no pride at all because I don’t get any benefits from it. I don’t just want money. Promote me so I can stay alive.”
Chan shares that the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has aimed to give everyone a taste of real fortune cookies. He said that despite the challenges, he is committed to keeping its mission.
“Fortunes are supposed to make people happy,” he said. “My pride is to be open as long as I can. I don’t want to disappoint.”
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