Extra! Extra! The Plum Tree Inn – Downtown

October 8, 2012

A pricey, busy restaurant in Chinatown, the Plum Tree Inn moved here after many years on Hill Street, despite suspicions locally that their new address was cursed (or so online research claimed). Every previous business here had apparently failed (Club Brazil in the 1940s, the Golden Palace Restaurant in the 1980s, and there were others too).

Online reports noted there had been a gang killing at this location “some 35 years” ago when it was known as the Golden Palace, and archive research did unearth a gangland massacre at the similarly-named Golden Dragon in 1977 – except that it was Chinatown in San Francisco. There was another restaurant at this address – the New Grand East – which suffered from some bad luck (a sudden and devastating fire in 1963), and was later linked to a bizarre murder, when the elderly former co-owner was killed during an apparent home invasion robbery on 31st October Halloween 1974.

Coming downstairs when he heard his wife cry out, he was shot by one of a trio of people who were wearing Halloween masks (including Frankenstein and a werewolf) as a deadly disguise. Disturbingly of all, the killing seemed to have been carried out by children – or small adults. The owner’s wife said they were all shorter than her; she was 5’1 and they were estimated to be around 4’6. The Los Angeles Times dubbed them the “Trick-or-Treat Terrorists” and they were caught the following year on Halloween, when they were again out on the hunt.

There are no other strange stories or witness accounts, but whether the Plum Tree Inn owners didn’t know – or didn’t care – about this site’s history, they did perhaps make one superstitious gesture: it lists its address as 913, when the other restaurants were all 911 N. Broadway. Either way, it seems to have broken any curse – for now. If you go, try their Kung Pao chicken, egg rolls and Peking Duck (order an hour in advance for the duck and their signature “Lion’s Head” – pork meatballs).