When fans of the legendary tiki-themed Kowloon restaurant in Saugus caught wind Thursday night that its owners were in talks with the town’s planning board over redevelopment, rumors began to swirl online that the beloved Route 1 eatery might be closing soon.
“If Kowloon dies, I die,” one user said.
“Can we just cancel 2021 now?! Not Kowloon!” another wrote.
Close to 2,000 tweets began circulating the Internet, lamenting the apparent news. But the restaurant quickly cleared up the rumors, offering some, but maybe not much, relief to fans.
“You go to a planning board meeting and all hell breaks loose,” said owner Bob Wong, laughing. Wong told the Globe that the younger generation might not want to run the family-owned business, so he’s preparing now. However, the Kowloon’s demise is not imminent.
“We’re talking years, not months,” he said. “We’re not looking to close, but I’m 65. You have to face reality and make plans. It will creep up one day.”
However, he did say that his family might want to continue to run a smaller version of the Kowloon instead.
“We’re leaving everything open,” he said.
Representatives of the restaurant met with the Saugus planning board Thursday night to announce the eventual closing of the restaurant and a development of the property into multiple lots for mixed use, according to the Saugus Advertiser. Architectural renderings presented in the application show two separate lots on the Kowloon property — one 195,314 square-feet and the other 119,000 square-feet.
An attorney representing the restaurant said the preliminary subdivision plan was put together in anticipation of the Wong family eventually redeveloping the property for commercial uses or a mixed-use development.
The restaurant over the summer tried to reinvent itself amid the COVID-19 pandemic by offering carhop service.
Selling the Kowloon would be like selling the Statue of Liberty. It’s a national Landmark and should be protected as such.— Kirk Minihane’s Caddie (@KirksCaddie) January 8, 2021
My wife & I were supposed to get married at Kowloon last October. Big wedding, 225 ppl. Instead, we got married in a park near our apt w/just our parents & my brother. It was great, but we still planned to do the big Kowloon party once it’s safe. Hope we still get to do that.— Terrence Doyle (@TerrenceDoyle) January 8, 2021
Knowing Kowloon will be closing really tore my heart into pieces. We keep loosing pieces of our childhood little by little and it’s so upsetting. Places you have such amazing memories with 💔💔💔💔— jaime (@jaimehanlon_) January 8, 2021
If Kowloon dies, I die.— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) January 8, 2021