For almost 30 years, Sung Lee has been managing his Fosters Freeze burger and ice cream joint, a Menlo Park landmark at 580 Oak Grove Ave. But the end is near.
Fosters Freeze will close on Sept. 30. The pending closure was first reported by the online site InMenlo.
Mr. Lee, who says he pays $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in San Jose, said he will be moving to a community where living is more affordable.
Business is "a very little bit down ... but there's not enough sales to make a living around here. I decided to close (and) move out of the Bay Area," he said. "The middle class can't stay here. The living costs are so high."
His shop has just two employees now, down significantly from its heyday, but Mr. Lee has been there pretty much every day to unlock the doors at 10 a.m. and lock them again at 8 p.m. "I've been doing that for 30 years," he said. "It's about half my lifetime working here."
While he has had no lease, Mr. Lee has also had no pressure to close, he said. But the landlord will not allow him to transfer ownership of the business, so he will sell what equipment he can to friends, he said.
The decision to close has been on his mind for maybe 10 years, he said.
Fosters Freeze has 87 independently operated shops in California, with locations also in Boulder Creek, Campbell, Berkeley and Alameda, according to the company's website.