Hop Sing Laundromat Has An Opening Date (Kinda), And A Bunch Of Rules

I got Lêe from Hop Sing on the blower yesterday afternoon and he was pissed–furious about a million different things and, by his own admission, well into his second day without sleep.

He was in a rush, after all, because he has this pre-opening, media-slash-friends-and-family party happening (tonight, as a matter of fact) and he’d been scrambling to get everything ready for it. There’d been time (hours and hours and hours…) spent dealing with the PLCB, more time spent on interviews, more time spent polishing and dusting and getting every little thing in place. The man is, as I’ve said before, a perfectionist. And the drag of perfectionism is that nothing is ever quite perfect enough.

But now, he was getting down to the wire. And the strain was showing.

“That’s it,” he said, barking into his phone. “I’m not opening. You tell everyone, ‘Lee got the fucking bar all finished and then he decided not to open’.”

But that, of course, isn’t true. He’s going to open. He’s going to open for the first time tonight and the Foobooz Mobile Party Unit will be on-hand to see how things shake out at the media night so we can tell you all about it tomorrow morning. What’s more, he’s going to have to actually open at some point, and now, for the first time, we have something like an opening date coming straight from Lêe.

“Middle of March,” he told me.

“So, what? Like the second week in March? The third?” I asked.

“March,” he said.


Sometime in March. Probably the middle of March.”

So there you go. The closest thing to a guaranteed date we’ve heard yet. We’re narrowing it down. Zeroing in.

But this isn’t just stalling. Lêe has a reason for giving himself an extra couple weeks. “We’re gonna have everyone in [for the friends-and-family],” he told me, “and then we’re going to shut down. We’re going to go over everything again, make sure it’s perfect. You know me, I can’t do anything one time. I have to do it three times.”

There are some other elements still up in the air as well. The menu (remember the menu? Nothing but the best take-out dishes from the best restaurants in Chinatown?) has yet to be finalized. There is still more rare and high-end liquor coming in (though Eater Philly spilled the details on what’s going to be in Hop Sing’s well, Lêe said of that fairly amazing list, “That’s just the start, brother. That’s just the beginning.”), which means more battling with the PLCB.

But then there’s also this: a list of “Rules & Policy” for Hop Sing Laundromat that Lêe sent over–something that he’s given a lot of thought to.


1. Membership cards are non-transferable, so please don’t lend it to anyone (especially mother in-law)
2. Members are allowed one guest per visit and you are responsible for your guest, so please don’t bring “a friend of a friend” or “a guy that knows the other guy” unless you are certain this person won’t caused you any embarrassment. Please choose wisely.
3. For yours and our other guest’s privacy, we will not be able to accommodate a party of more than 4 guests.
4. No children under 23 or people acting like children will be permitted unless accompanied by an adult.
5. There is no hat of any kind allowed once inside the main dining room.
6. Please respect the privacy of other members. And gentlemen, please do not approach the ladies without an invitation as this is neither a Rittenhouse or an Olde City butcher shop.
7. We have the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime, especially those patrons who may have had one too many.
8. Illegal drug use of any kind will be not be tolerated and we shall contact the authorities if you or your companion is practicing such habit here. We can’t offer an intervention but are happy to recommend a known & respected rehab facility near by.
9. Please leave quietly as our neighbors are sleeping or trying to do so, and please do not linger outside our front door.
10. If you wished to call your spouse or pet then we’ll provide a place for you to make that call in private, as yapping on the phone is not allowed in the main dining room.
11. No cameras or recording devices of any kind are allowed anywhere in our establishment…ever!
12. You will be asked to leave if you don’t follow the above rules.

And last but not least, if any of you need transportation to get home then please let us know and we shall contact a taxi company on your behalf as we do wish you all to have a safe journey home.

Thank you.
Hop Sing Laundromat.

First off, yeah. He said “membership.” The way Lee explained it to me, the public will be allowed in, but priority seating (among other things) will be provided for members. When the place is full, it’s members only. When there are seats available, its first come-first served. And yes, there will also be a membership fee, but Lee would only tell me that it would be “reasonable.”

Second, I will assume that when he wrote “butcher shop” above, he meant “meat market.” Because otherwise, Lee has been hanging out in some really strange butcher’s shops…

Otherwise, the rules are the rules and the policies are the policies: no kids (including 21 and 22-year-old kids), no large groups, no cameras, no hats, no drugs.

We’ll be back with more details tomorrow, so stay tuned…

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  • hmm

    i’m confused…is he going to have to shut down every time he opens just so he can “perfect” the place for the next opening? will he only be open one night a week?

    what exactly is he trying to be perfectionist about? spots on glassware? barstools aligned evenly along a straight line?? i don’t get it…

  • rory

    goddam, did he pay this website for all this advertisement for a bar that is roughly a year late in opening, or are you just suckers like that?

    btw, here’s Daniel Klein claiming it’d open by October 31st: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/130112963.html

    and here’s PhillyChitChat claiming by the end of 2011: http://www.phillychitchat.com/2011/12/1st-annual-cancer-is-ugly-ugly-sweater.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PhillyChitChat+%28PHILLY+CHIT+CHAT%29

    guess for each assured opening date, he picks a new sucker in the media to trick into keeping this bar in the news.

    god i hope this place fails and fails hard.

  • cleevus

    no place can live up to this hype. no place.

  • Cheltenham Charlie

    Each is given a bag of tools, shapeless mass, and a book of rules.

  • cleevus

    has anyone seen shola?
    no, but i heard he’s a member at hop sing.

  • This is beyond corny

    Cool. At what point does this whole craze just become ridiculous? One of the attractions of imbibing alcohol is that its supposed to be enjoyable, as in, having a good time. Establishing pretentious guidelines for an untested BAR (that’s what it is) sounds just as corny as say, making up a story about “traveling the world over for the perfect cocktails” or giving yourself a mischievous name (Mister Lee…get it?).

    Quite frankly, this place already sounds like the perfect combination of Arthur Kade and Barclay Shields.

    Enough already. It’s just drinks people…just drinks.

  • eldondre

    what a nut

  • tijuana

    Its a fake, shitty PDT right here in philly but even more ridiculous because it is a knock off of a fake speakeasy. Thanks, I’ll be at Southwark.

  • Lawd Chezzer

    Cmon guys, relax. Every bar requires membership cards. You know, they’re green with guys faces on em… The higher the number on your cards, the more stuff you are entitled to enjoy. Sounds fair to me…

  • This sounds great and all, but if I can be guzzling giant cans of Sapporo around the corner, I will pass. I want as few rules as possible when I am drinking. That’s why I miss the real Trestle Inn. If you need me, I’ll be at the Pennsport Pub.

  • Michael G

    Lee probably has to count all the toothpicks that fall on the ground. I’m not sure what his market is here but i’m not part of it. This pretentiousness isn’t going to make me leave Good Dog, the Trestle, Frank’s or even jose Pistola’s anytime soon.

  • Ha

    Is there a lot of press? Yes. Is the guy nuts? yes. Will everyone who bitches on this site about HSL want to go to see what the hub bub is about? Yes. You’ll all be there, and be pissed when he runs out of memberships. I think the whole thing is crazy, but I know how people are, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

    Exclusivity always piques people’s interest. This place will never hurt for customers, and you angry commenters can’t stop it from happening. Bwahahahahaha!

  • KL

    Hop Sing Laundromat is the nightlife equivalent of Chinese Democracy

  • Tim

    Won’t last more than three months before it is hemorrhaging money and closes soon thereafter. Pretentousness won’t fly in Chinatown where the average household is not making much money. If he plans on catering to the wealthy Asians, he won’t have a large enough patronage to keep the place open.

    The white consumer won’t put up with some of the silly rules they plan on enforcing.

  • Tim

    That very same, so called, exclusivity, failed at the Arrow Swim Club and its accompnaying bar and recently at Le Bec Fin.

    How many narcissistic Americans are going to leave the dinning room to answer a cell phone call? How do you think they will react when the Asian Manager comes over and requests that they leave the room or the restaurant? I don’t see this place surviving very long, it just doesn’t seem like it will fit into the social fabric of Philadelphians.

  • Teaw

    As long as your membership card says 14K or Au, you can do whatever you want

  • Anonymous

    Tim #14 and #15
    You are an idiot.

    It won’t be ” hemorrhaging money” because it is in chinatown in a space that costs $1500 a month. The “average Asians” as you put it in Chinatown are mostly immigrant communities and you are too dumb to realize the wealthy Asians live in Cherry Hill, Vorhees and Cheltenham. Also if you pull your head out of your ass you will realize that in the last 50 years Asian people also live in center city, they go to college, they have jobs, speak perfect english and love a good cocktail now and then.

    Just because someone is from a particular ethnic group does not mean that when they open a business it only caters to that ethnic group. Are you really that stupid.

    You are clearly a racist when you use provincial terms like “white consumer”…… Latin and Black people don’t drink specialty cocktails?

    Arrow Swim Club was a shitsow. Poorly built swimming pool in Fishtown pretending it belongs on south beach charging $1000 for membership while being owned by a low life real estate developer.
    LBF did not close because of exclusivity, it was exclusive for years. Quality was gone.
    Yeah the social fabric of Philadelphia with tacky cougars on rittenhouse, loser hipsters in nolibs and south jersey trash in old city. That should be hard to fit into.

  • BrynneAshton

    The rules would be much more believable (and therefore enforceable) if they weren’t written in Engrish.

  • JerseyGirl

    Tim, how do you know the manager will be Asian?

  • BrynneAshton

    Anonymous #17-
    And the name “Hop Sing Laudromat” isn’t racist? He may as well call it “Chairman Mao’s Lucky Garden”. Give me a break.

  • Tex

    I predict that Federal Donuts will fail as well.

  • Ha

    Tex – you’re alright. I like the cut of your jib.

  • lizwiz

    Anonymous #17 clearly has no understanding of the real social fabric of this city as he apparently plans to cater to “cougars, losers, and trash”. I would have hoped HSL was a slight cut above, but clearly it is not. Anyone with style knows better and will recognize a sham when they see it.

  • Cheltenham Charlie

    Where is Helen Gym on this one? Hop Sing Launrdomat is ok, Round Eye Noodle Bar is not ok.

  • Que Dices

    The concept has worked in NYC:

    List of rules. Memberships. In Chinatown.

  • Palmer

    Hop sing laundry is a tv reference. Not racist.

  • Uncle Sam

    Kim Jong il did not die. He simply took form as lee from hop sing.

  • deadhorse

    Talk about beating a dead horse…

  • behappy

    I don’t understand why there is so much hate for a man none of you know. He has money, wanted to open up an amazing bar/lounge, went ahead and took his time doing it and has created a buzz.

    Sure, this man happens to be Asian and the bar is in Chinatown. But guess what — there are non-Asian business owners in Chinatown, non-Asian residents, and Chinese restaurants in the suburbs. If you read quotes from this guy, he sounds as American as can be, probably born, raised, and educated here. And now he’s helping fuel the economy.

    By the way, he’s also a marketing genius. Keep talking smack about Lee. All it does it make you look silly because you can’t actually say he’s done anything wrong – morally, legally, socially.

    Btw, how would you like it if he went on the news and told your boss that you were a jerk who deserves to lose your job? Sounds pretty weird to me.

  • ocean harbor

    Marketing genius better try to shift some of few brain cells to actually getting the place open. he ruining our dim sum fun with dust

  • Dave

    I’ve seen this place while it was semi under construction and it was absolutely stunning!He’s a little off but very passionate.The atmosphere and attention to detail is immaculate.