I bet you know more about a wedding in Venice than you ever thought you would. We send our best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. George Clooney. If they had chosen San Francisco as their wedding venue, we could have introduced them to some of our special hometown wedding traditions, starting with a unique five story building and business that opened in 1966.
Empress of China restaurant and special event venue on Grant Avenue has been serving guests for 48 years. The grand ballroom seats 450 guests and is a favorite place for Chinese family weddings. While Chairman Mao was launching the cultural revolution in China, San Franciscans were introduced to the décor at the Empress inspired by royalty of the Han Dynasty, with reproductions of antique palace chandeliers, silk brocade walls, and even some imperial peacock feathers. When you step off the elevator, you walk into a replica of the Octagonal Pavilion from the Royal Park in Beijing.
Locals Curtis and Melanie Chew had their wedding reception at the Empress. Here is a look at their beautiful wedding album by photographer Dorothy Hatchel, including views of the ballroom with a stage for the wedding party:
I am quite sure that Mr. and Mrs. Clooney did not have this at their reception. For entertainment, how about some cute Chinese lions? At about one minute into this video clip, you will see some amazing acrobatics. It takes skill to hop on to stilted platforms and dance while two people are wearing the same lion costume.
Sadly, the Empress of China announced that the restaurant and favorite large group celebration venue will be closing at the end of this year. The descendants of the original owners plan to sell the building.