Wilson Tang: “$1 a Plate” Street Fair Won’t Help Chinatown

Flyers for this weekend’s street fair have gone up throughout Chinatown.

Editor’s note: A couple of days ago we mentioned a street fair taking place Saturday to drum up business for Chinatown shops and restaurants struggling after Hurricane Sandy.  But not everyone thinks the event is the best way to make the neighborhood’s small businesses stronger.  Among them: Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner (and TLD contributor) Wilson Tang.   Here are his thoughts on the “Chinatown Revival Fair.”

Chinatown holds a special place in my heart.  It’s where I grew up, it’s where I work and own a business, and I’m proud to be part of this community.  Whether I’m pointing tourists in the right direction, seeing my doctor or dentist in Chinatown, buying produce or “pigging out,” I’m a big advocate for “keeping it local.”

From my vantage point, it’s not hard to see the obstacles Chinatown’s small business owners face, especially restaurant operators. They’re constantly chasing the dream instead of living the dream — with the lowest profit margins imaginable. Think about what it’s like making a living selling  $1 dumplings and $3 lunch boxes. I speak from first hand experience.  In 2004, I opened a bakery on Allen Street, near Hester, but eventually closed the place because I wasn’t getting the volume to survive on 60 cent coffees and 80 cent pastries. Working 80 plus hours a week wasn’t doing me any good either.  As fixed costs increase and rents continue to go up, you don’t have a chance in this neighborhood unless you’re doing huge volume.

Earlier this week, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, along with the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, announced they were holding a street fair this weekend to help local businesses recover from the losses sustained during and after Hurricane Sandy. On face value, I thought it was a good idea to promote small business in my neighborhood during a really tough time.  It seemed like a great way to get people down to Chinatown to spend money and to help out the local economy.

Cocktails For a Cause Tonight at Libation

Come out for some cocktails and support the communities in the Rockaways.  There is a fun benefit this evening at Libation. The hosts write:  Please join us for “Cocktails for a Cause” at Libation 6:30pm on Thursday, November 29th. The communities of Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and Rockaway Beach have been deeply impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and we need the support of our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to help us rebuild our beloved beach community. There will be a suggested $10 donation at the door, as well as a raffle, and half price drinks all night! Donations will go to Rockaway WISH (Women Inspired to Support & Help), a local Rockaway foundation established in 2006; WISH members are born & bred Rockawayites. Their mission – post Hurricane Sandy – is to provide monetary relief for victims during the recovery and rebuild phases of this disaster. Please help spread the word, and stop by, even just for a bit, as it means so much to us and our community!


Morning Reads: Chinatown Pedestrian Death, Gun-Peddling Cop Sentenced, “Giant” at the Public

  • City Council member Margaret Chin asks the NYPD to investigate the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a National Guard truck in Chinatown (Streetsblog).
  • Police are looking for help in identifying a woman who was found wandering Avenue A yesterday morning (WCBS).
  • A cop is sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing guns from the 9th Precinct and selling them to a drug dealer (Post).
  • Some in Washington are puzzled that Governor Cuomo did not join Michael Bloomberg on Capitol Hill to lobby for hurricane aid (NYT).
  • After sustaining water damage during Hurricane Sandy, the Stanton Street Shul has launched a crowdfunding campaign (Lucky Ant).
  • A climate change film shot following Sandy was projected on a wall above the Exxon Mobil station on East 2nd Street (Village Voice).
  • A new report shows the number of stalled building sites in New York has jumped by 17% since the beginning of 2012 (Post).
  • A progress report on the new Karl Fischer building going up at 316 East 3rd Street (EV Grieve).
  • “Giant,” the new musical at the Public has “great moments” but “lacks proportion.” (Capital)


Good Morning!

LES Roofscape

Photo by Joel Raskin.

Partly cloudy skies today with a high of 45.

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