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SF’s ‘hottest’ trans nightclub celebrates 25th anniversary

Artist Jasmine performs on stage at AsiaSF, a prominent transgender-themed restaurant in SoMa. | Courtesy AsiaSF

Pride Month is still two months away, but a prominent transgender-themed club in San Francisco is ready to party.

AsiaSF, once named the “hottest” and “most important” restaurant in the city, was founded in 1998 and has long been known for the talented transgender performers on its stage. The SoMa venue will celebrate its 25th anniversary with four-day-long festivities in mid-April.

“Over 25 years, hundreds of thousands of people have become part of the AsiaSF Family,” Larry Hashbarger, the restaurant’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We have entertained, enthralled, educated and enlightened people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

Artist Karmina performs on stage at AsiaSF, a prominent transgender-themed restaurant. | Courtesy AsiaSF

Hashbarger told The Standard that the concept of the restaurant was inspired by his experiences traveling and meeting new friends in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, where many trans women work in hospitality.

Hashbarger later had a friend who transitioned, which helped him better understand gender identity, pushing him to create a trans-positive environment and raise awareness about “living your truth and being your authentic self.”

The series of events kicks off on Thursday, April 13, as the venue—located at the corner of Ninth and Howard streets—mounts shows that feature the best of AsiaSF’s first quarter-century. The celebrations continue on Friday and Saturday night, followed by a private, invitation-only “Friends and Family” evening on Sunday.

AsiaSF has served California-Asian fusion cuisine to cheering crowds since 1998. | Courtesy AsiaSF

Since its inception, this California-Asian fusion dining destination has been more than just a place for cold soba noodles and tamarind chicken satays, but a welcoming space for trans women to perform. In 2016, a reality show starring the club’s performers, Transcendent, debuted and ran for two seasons.

The restaurant was remodeled and upgraded during the Covid pandemic closure.

Originally, all the “Ladies of AsiaSF” were women of Asian descent, but now the performers are more diverse. A short-lived satellite location in Palm Springs opened just before the pandemic, closing in late 2022.

AsiaSF 25th Anniversary

📍 201 Ninth St., SF
🗓️  April 13-15