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Last Handmade Fortune Cookie Company In U.S. May Close Due To High SF Rent

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The last standing handmade fortune cookie company in the country may have to close its doors due to the ever-increasing San Francisco rent prices.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookies says it's the only shop left in the country that does things the old-fashioned way: the work is labor intensive, three machines run up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week and workers fold thousands of cookies by hand.

"The look of the customer, how satisfy it is, how deeply love the cookies, so I feel like it's my job to stay open, as far as I can," said co-owner Kevin Chan.

Chan doesn't know how much longer he can keep the doors open. When his mother opened the store in 1962, rent was $900 a month. Three years ago, it was $1,400.

In August 2018, it more than quadrupled to $5,750 a month.

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"I really don't know what to do, my next lease, I don't know how much they're going to bring it up," said Chan.

For decades, this has been a popular stop in Chinatown for locals, school children and tourists.

"It's exciting to see, and this woman who makes thousands a day and provides us with a treat and a part of her heritage," said Pat Wilson-O'Leary who is visiting from Michigan. "I would hate to see it gone."

Today, 49-year-old Chan and his mother are the only two full-time workers, assisted by a few part time workers. The city's $15 an hour minimum wage and the rising price of ingredients are squeezing the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie's bottom line.

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"I feel disappointed because we're losing our community soon, it will," said Chan. "Right now, I'm also serving the public, serving the people, people can see it, that counts, that motivate people to come here."

Moving locations isn't an option because the old machinery is built into the space.

Chan says factory-made cookies just aren't the same. His are made from his mother's secret recipe that only she knows.

"We'll see, we'll see," said Chan when asked whether he thinks he'll survive another year.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookies was designated as a legacy business in 2016. He says the program hasn't eased his financial burdens.

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