Peking Express set to close doors soon

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Peking Express will be closing its doors to the Berkeley community Sept. 30 after three years of business.

With more than 20 years of experience in the Berkeley restaurant business, owner Kathy Gia explained that she decided to sell because the time felt right to pursue different projects.

“I am here all the time,” Gia said. “I never leave. (But) I feel that I have been there, done that. At this time in my life, I should be able to walk away and do something smaller.”

Peking is located in the Southside area between Bowditch Street and Telegraph Avenue — now across from the Durant Food Court after moving from its previous Downtown location. According to Gia, the restaurant’s large size in comparison to neighboring establishments attracted an offer from billiard bar Thalassa.

Thalassa could not be reached for comment.

Because Berkeley is heavily populated with students and revenue tends to drop during summer, Gia believes the area is looking to develop a more entertainment-based businesses to draw in different crowds.

“This is a prime location (for the bar),” Gia said. “And perhaps this area needs a little more nighttime entertainment and excitement.”

Peking Express customer and UC Berkeley junior Shadrian Gayles said he’s “extraordinarily sad” to see the restaurant go. But despite Peking Express being his “go-to” spot for lunch, he’s not surprised it’s closing.

“It’s good food, and it’s not expensive,” he said. “(But) it’s really empty every time I come in here.”

Peking Express isn’t the first restaurant on Southside to close in the past few months. This summer, Peking’s former neighbor the Manhattan Roast and Grill also closed down its business and will soon be replaced by a Canadian food chain.

But Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who oversees the area, pointed out that it is not uncommon for restaurants to have short lifespans in the Berkeley area due to its heavy concentration of food establishments.

“You really have to find your own personal niche,” Worthington said. “Certain restaurants, however, have found their appeal through a particular social group, circle or fans of a particular style of food. But it is hard to break into that.”

Although Gia is closing a restaurant she has owned and managed for the past two decades, she does not see herself escaping the Berkeley food culture and community any time soon.

“I’ve been in Berkeley for over 20 years, but I can’t seem to leave,” she said. “I (have become) way too attached to the people.”

Contact Becca Benham and Suhauna Hussain at [email protected].