Fong-Fong Bakery Fountain, San Francisco Chinatown 1941

We started the Fong-Fong Bakery-Fountain in 1935. We had a beautiful, long counter, the latest equipment, stainless steel, nice-looking bakery cases full of fancy, decorated cakes and flaky French pastries, and it was the first place, you know, that had uniforms in Chinatown, regular soda fountain uniforms, all white. I told my partners my policy. "Now we're going to cater to the younger generation and turn this into a gathering place for all of the young American-born Chinese in San Francisco." And we did. On weekends, students from Berkeley and Stanford would come in droves. On Sunday morning, people waited in line to get in. And we really fractured those hawk-sawed old-timers with goodies Chinatown had never seen before— Napoleon pastries, wedding cakes, bon voyage baskets, nobody had ever seen a banana split made in Chinatown before, nobody ever saw a parfait decorated nicely. At the time, I had enrolled in the University of California's Davis Farm Dairy School, and as I became a little more adept at ice cream making I had an idea; Ever since we opened, tourists in Chinatown would keep coming into Fong-Fong's and after staring at the twenty-flavor ice cream listings they'd say, "Cheeze, don't yuh have any Chinese ice cream?" That's when I started to invent Lichee ice cream, Ginger ice cream, Chinese fruit ice cream, and finally we even invented Chinese Sundaes, which were unheard of before.

—Johnny Kan (who formerly worked at Foster's Cafeteria and Sam Hing Groceries before opening the wildly successful tourist restaurant, Johnny Kan's in the thirties.)

photo caption: The exterior of Fong Fong Bakery in Chinatown. Photograph by Peter Stackpole. San Francisco, California, USA, 1941.