mike koozmin/the s.f. examinerThe Empress of China

On Wednesday, the Empress of China, affixed on the top two floors of a building in the heart of Chinatown and the last fine Chinese dining restaurant and banquet hall of its kind in the neighborhood, will close its doors after serving the community and a diversity of customers for nearly half a century.

Its shuttering leaves behind an institution with decorations deemed to be of museum caliber. The centerpieces of the dining rooms on the sixth floor are century-old chandeliers so intricate they seem out of this world. The ornate banquet hall on the fifth floor that accommodated 600 to 700 guests in its heyday has overlooked the rise of new buildings through the decades.

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