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Amid FBI bribery probe, a Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant may be forced to leave

This image shows the exterior of Nick's Lighthouse restaurant, with its maroon canopy displaying its name. People are dining outside on a sunny day, enjoying seafood dishes.
The lease for Nick’s Lighthouse at 2815 Taylor St. is now at risk after a suspension order by the City Attorney’s Office and Port of San Francisco was filed on Thursday. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

The owners of a Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant accused of bribing an undercover FBI agent and a Port of San Francisco employee could be forced to close their operation on the picturesque waterfront.

On Thursday, the City Attorney’s Office and Port of San Francisco issued a suspension order on Nick’s Lighthouse, barring the restaurant from bidding on or entering into contracts with the city.

The order allows the city to terminate its own existing contracts, putting the restaurant’s lease with the Port of San Francisco at risk.

A port spokesperson, Eric Young, said the agency is in conversation with the City Attorney’s Office about the “next steps” regarding the restaurant’s lease. 

The suspension order could last up to five years, said City Attorney’s Office spokesperson Jen Kwart.

In November, restaurateurs Min “James” Paik and his wife, Hye Paik, were charged with two counts of bribery in an alleged plot that investigators believe began in May 2023 to secure lucrative lease space owned by the Port of San Francisco.

In a court appearance shortly after they were charged, the couple—both in their 60s—evaded jail with a $50,000 bond payment. 

Reached by phone on Friday, Hye Paik did not respond to questions for this article. The couple’s attorney confirmed the suspension order but declined to comment further.

Investigators say that after Min Paik tried to bribe a Port of San Francisco worker for help securing waterfront lease space, the employee immediately told his superiors, and the incident was reported to the FBI. 

The feds then investigated, and the port employee secretly recorded the restauranteur’s conversations with the staffer. An undercover FBI agent posing as a port worker also participated in the investigation.

Court documents allege Min Paik tried to offer thousands of dollars to the port employee and FBI agent, some of which was delivered in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.

The couple currently faces one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery of an agent of an entity receiving federal monies.