Now It’s Even Harder to Get Into Hop Sing Laundromat

The Chinatown cocktail bar is now a weekends-only affair. Here's why.

Last night was the 6th anniversary of Hop Sing Laundromat.

Or last night was when Lê decided to celebrate it, anyway. There was a party. Marc Vetri, Georges Perrier, Alan Domb and all the usual suspects were in attendance. There was a cake celebrating the triumph of the “World’s Greatest North Korean Cocktail Bar” and lots of drinking.

But because Lê likes to use these inherently dramatic moments (and gatherings of the boozy press) to make announcements (like last year’s ending of the sneaker ban), he eventually climbed up on his nickel-topped bar and told everyone that, beginning immediately, Hop Sing was going to be cutting back to three nights a week.

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. That’s it. He told me that he’s doing it for his staff (to give them a break) and for himself, so that he can spend more time with his parents and his family. There is only one set of keys for Hop Sing, and Lê carries them. He has opened the door every day that the bar has been open. And locked it again at the end of every single night. And after six years of that, he wants a bit of a break — which, of course, means fewer nights operating because the idea of having someone else open and close a couple nights a week never even occurred to him.

Mostly, though, Lê is doing it because he can. He has a sweet deal on the rent at Hop Sing (now locked in, he says, through 2030). He has no partners he has to satisfy. And he does have some other projects he’s working on that deserve more of his attention than he’s been giving them.

No, he didn’t say what. He gave hints. Traded in rumors. But I’ve known Lê for years now — long enough to know that no deal is an actual deal until the paperwork is signed and someone hands him a new single set of keys to tuck away in his pocket and never let anyone else use.

In the meantime, those who love Hop Sing can still drink there on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You still can’t wear hats. There’s still no selfies allowed. And the warnings about poor tippers and rulebreakers being banned for life are absolutely true (the list is close to 3,000 names now). But don’t worry. Hop Sing isn’t closing for real any time soon.

Or at least that’s what Lê said last night.