Hong Kong Lounge owner indicted for threatening employees, lying to government

CBS5 reported last night on poor labor practices at popular dim sum spot Hong Kong Lounge I on Geary near 18th Avenue.

Back in 2012, restaurant owner Ming Lian Zhou was accused of failing to pay overtime to 48 employees and was directed to pay near $93,000 in back pay to the affected employees. Zhou turned over certified letters to the DOL, claiming he had paid the employees.

But he was lying, and told his employees to lie about receiving their back pay. By 2013, Zhou still had not paid the employees so the Department of Labor required Zhou to pay the DOL directly so that checks could then be issued to the employees.

But that was not the end of the matter. Zhou then told his employees they had to cash the DOL checks they received and give the money back to him. As in a kickback. Zhou allegedly reduced hours, changed employee schedules, and terminated employees who failed to comply with his kick back instructions.

On Wednesday, Zhou appeared for his arraignment in federal court on charges of violating federal labor laws, and threatening workers while withholding wages. He was released on $50,000 bail.

If convicted, Zhou could face up to 25 years in prison.

Sarah B.


  1. So sad that this man thinks he can do this to his employees. And so sad that the employees are seemingly stuck with him.

  2. I’m sure the similiar working practices on Clement are taking note. Next stop: The employees sue his family for benefitting from his theft? I’m pretty sure something like this was happening at Yet Wah all those years.

  3. I thought there were 2 different owners; that each Hong Kong Lounge had nothing to do with each other. Anyone?

  4. Just found this! CBS 5 do your homework!!!

    May 9, 2014 | Updated: May 10, 2014 11:56pm

    Annie Ho owned the popular Hong Kong Lounge, but she decided it was too big and sold her interest to open this much smaller restaurant where she can control the food and service. The brick-colored dining room with dark wood screens at the large windows has a clean, cared-for look. You can almost always see the owner observing the staff and the food coming out of the kitchen. The young servers all wear ties and are efficient and friendly, and often offer to serve communal items. Most people head here for dim sum, but the dinners can be a delight.

  5. I read the same thing as you CEE but I also saw that sfgate reported this “The current owner, Annie Ho, said Zhou is no longer a part of the business, although a liquor license registered with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control still shows him as the licensee.”

  6. Thank you CEE and CENTRALRICH, you should legit consider a life as a reporter. Valuable comment!

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