Jing Fong Shutters as Chinatown Faces Long Road Back

After 28 years of serving customers, Jing Fong closed permanently on Sunday.

The Chinatown restaurant would typically serve 10,000 guests a week in its large banquet hall. Not only has the pandemic sent restaurants reeling but the devastation to Chinatown’s economy has been especially pronounced, the New York Times reported.

“An empty Jing Fong leaves a crater in the middle of Chinatown,” Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, told the newspaper.

In Chinatown, home to 3,000 businesses and 300 restaurants, cafes and bakeries, the pandemic hit harder in large part because the area relies on tourism.

Chinatown faces another hurdle: racism, xenophobia and violence against Asian-Americans across the country has increased since the pandemic started. Consumers started avoiding Chinatown even before shutdowns began in March 2020, although the area has had a lower rate of confirmed coronavirus cases than the city on the whole, according to the Times.

At least 17 Chinatown restaurants and 139 ground-floor stores have permanently closed during the pandemic, according to Wellington Z. Chen, the executive director of the Chinatown Partnership.

“I’ve lost my livelihood,” Li Zhen Tan, who served dim sum for 24 years, told the paper. “Without Jing Fong, where are we going to work? I’m older and I don’t know if anyone will want to hire me.”

[NYT] — Sasha Jones

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