By Robyn Johnson
Fly-by-night no more? Photo from SF Eater
First off, if you haven’t taken the Mission Street Food ride, then you should. Every Thursday and Saturday night, Lung Shan Restaurant, normally a modest-to-divey Chinese food establishment located off Mission and 18th Street, transforms a la Cinderella into a singular dining adventure. A dimly lit ambience with strings of red, white lights strung along the wall below oddly works in harmony with the kitschy Oriental tableaux. Diners are seated family style, due to the long lines and cramped space, so you might find yourself making a few new friends.
And each day rotating guest chefs craft a unique menu that aspires to the innovative, fun, and cheap. Gourmetification of so-called low-brow foods are the delicious norm; for example this Thursday, in honor of the Superbowl, you can order Frito Pie, which their site describes as “smoked short rib and beef tongue chili with Frito crust with a [vegetarian] option of smoked scallion and pasilla chili with Rancho Gordo Pinto Beans.”
If all this wasn’t unconventional enough, Mission Street Food donates all its profits to charity, about $22,000 in its first year of operation. And now, they want to go full-time. Like their current business model—symbiotically renting space from a restaurant that couldn’t afford to stay open seven days week—the venture has an equally unique idea to front the capital needed to create a permanent restaurant. Husband and wife team Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz are asking for 100 investors to each pay $500, with a promise of annual dividends around $70. At any time the investor can cash out for $1000 worth of gift certificates redeemable at the restaurant. It’s just crazy enough to work.