New Oakland Restaurant Owner Dies, But Her Dream Doesn't
By Sarah Han
**UPDATE** The Indiegogo campaign and all related plans to continue the restaurant for Pi Dan Noodle House has been cancelled. We received an email on Saturday afternoon, March 29, from the friends who started the campaign:
"It has recently been brought to our attention that the use of Allison’s story for the Indiegogo campaign has been disapproved by her family; this is something we want to be sensitive to. That said, without the help of crowdfunding, we would need to find more investors than we currently have in order to alleviate the remaining shortage in funds. Should these investors agree on contributing without us mentioning the story behind Pi Dan, we fear that the restaurant would be so over-leveraged that the timely repayment of all loans and promised return doubtful.
This financial consideration in conjunction with Allison's family's wishes have led us to pull the plug on this project.
We want to give you a BIG thank you for all your support the past few weeks. Your efforts have generated such strong and beautiful feedback that touched us all. Although the restaurant will unlikely continue, I’m sure your love and positive thoughts for Allison’s dream will live on forever."
Allison Chen was two months away from opening her first restaurant. Local media and food writers were already writing about the upcoming Pi Dan Noodle House. Allison's restaurant would specialize in Taiwanese and Chinese noodles, and was set to open this spring in Oakland's Uptown District at Broadway and Grand. Then, two weeks ago, she died unexpectedly and it looked like her dream restaurant would pass with the ambitious young East Bay woman.
But her friends couldn't let that happen. They're asking for people's help via an Indiegogo campaign to make sure Pi Dan Noodle House opens.
Allison was born and raised in Walnut Creek and Danville, but her parents were Taiwanese immigrants and she grew up traveling between the Bay Area and Hong Kong, where she developed a deep appreciation for the food. A year ago, Allison, who was living in the Temescal District of Oakland, left her job as a corporate accountant to start a new passion project. Pi Dan Noodle House was going to be a nod to her roots, serving modern takes on authentic Taiwanese and Chinese dishes, like zha jiang mian (or black bean noodles) and beef noodle soup.
She was interested in making these dishes accessible to a new audience; part of that was making a welcoming, modern space. She was working with Boor Bridges Architecture, the firm that built out The Mill and Sightglass, to design Pi Dan. But even though the space was going to be fancy, she wanted the food to be "fast-casual" and affordable, in the $7-10 range.
A team of Allison's friends are hoping to make her dream a reality, despite her passing. Taking the planning details she left with them, they're moving forward, but they still need a minimum of $75,000 to complete the restaurant and make sure it can run successfully. Should their campaign be a success, Pi Dan will open June 1.
All images via the Pi Dan Noodle House indiegogo campaign