Poleng Lounge Owner Looks Back, Considers Opportunity in the Mission

Poleng Lounge co-owner Desi Danganan said he's surprised by the outpouring of support from customers sad to see the demise of the New Asian café-nightclub (1751 Fulton at Masonic). Since yesterday, when Eater broke the story of Poleng's demise following dinner on Sunday, he said the phone's been ringing off the hook. “We inadvertently became the standard-bearers of Filipino cuisine,” said Danganan, co-owner with chef Tim Luym. “We're the first generation of Filipinos to take our food and our culture and cross over into the mainstream.” He marveled that sisig ― a Filipino street-food dish of meat from a pickled pig's head, served on a sizzle platter ― could find an audience even with non-Filipinos at Poleng. “It used to be only on our secret menu,” he said.

Danganan wouldn't talk about his future plans, except to say he's considering an opportunity in the Mission. It's unclear whether Luym ― currently on vacation in the Philippines ― would partner with Danganan in any new venture. Luym is still consulting for lunch cafe Urban Picnic in the Financial District.

No surprise that Poleng's slowdown started with the economic collapse of late 2008. “We lost a good portion of our Michael Bauer diners, empty-nesters living off their 401(k)s,” he said. “We restructured our menu and staff to make it lean and mean, but it wasn't enough.” Poleng started lunch service late last year, which Danganan said helped make payroll, but couldn't save the business.

Though food service ends Sunday, Poleng is still booked with nightclub acts through Jan. 30. The bar continues till then, too.

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