Asian Art Museum’s cafe closes after four years of operation

On July 31, the Asian Art Museum said goodbye to its cafe of four years as Sunday at the Museum shut down permanently. The cafe, known for its Asian comfort foods and boba, announced the closing on Instagram on July 22.

Deuki Hong — co-owner of The Sunday Family Hospitality Group, which operated Sunday at the Museum — told SFGATE that the decision to close came about as the contract was expiring. The team decided not to renew, since it would allow the team to properly focus efforts on other Sunday Group locations.

“We just felt extremely stretched,” Hong said. “We just realized, ‘Can we sustain this for another five years?’ And when that answer eventually became no, we didn’t feel as confident.”

The Sunday Group runs three other operations — Sunday Bakeshop, Sunday Gather and Sunday Social — and renewing the contract at the Asian Art Museum would have continued to strain the team. Sunday at the Museum got its start in 2018, when Hong partnered with Andrew Chau and Bin Chen, founders of The Boba Guys, to provide the museum with its new cafe. The Sunday Group oversaw the food offerings, while the Boba Guys provided beverage options.

The cafe was part of a $90 million expansion project at the Museum.

Dining on Sunday at the Museum did not require a ticket. The cafe halted operations during the pandemic as it was beholden to the museum’s schedule, but it was able to come back to finish out its contract. Despite the departure, Hong looks back on the past four years with a very positive lens.

“The museum was just an incredible partner,” Hong said. “Just kind of looking out for us, making all these amendments and reprieves and just pretty much anything you would want in, not even a landlord relationship — it was more really a partnership. And so they made it really easy for us.”

The feeling was mutual, a spokesperson for the Asian Art Museum confirmed.

“We are proud of what Deuki and his team accomplished,” the museum said in an email to SFGATE. “They showed us all what it means when you match your menu with your mission, starting with local creators to capture the complexity, and the joy, of the Asian American experience. Deuki reminded us that food, like art, will always be a wonderful way to share culture.”

As of now, museum guests will have to turn to options in the neighborhood to accompany their visit, as no dining options are available in the museum at this time. However, a spokesperson confirmed that they are “actively looking for a new partner.”

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