A sizable crowd turned out on Saturday for the “Chinatown Revival Fair,” an event meant to support local businesses suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Restaurants offered $1 “tasting plates,” on the streets outside their establishments. The street fair was sponsored by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, with support from many other groups, including the Chinatown BID.
In an editorial we published last week, Nom Wah Tea Parlor owner Wilson Tang said he believed the “$1 tasting plate” concept was bad for Chinatown businesses, since no restaurant could hope to make money, or in his view, build customer loyalty with this type of promotion.
But Wallace Lei, owner of the Hong Kong Station restaurants disagreed, telling Our Chinatown that the street fair was a positive for the neighborhood:
Although Lai agrees about the profits, he believes it will benefit Chinatown as long as businesses work together in these events. “We have to keep that momentum though,” he said. “We need to have immigrant bonding. If we group together we can achieve a lot.” Pointing to the crowd grabbing plates of dumplings outside his Bayard Street store, Lai says that the event turned out better than expected and hopes for more in the future. He has more ideas brewing to bring people into Chinatown, including running a shuttle service to and from heavily touristed areas like SoHo and Ground Zero. “This is great for Chinatown. People come out feeling energetic,” he said.
Several elected officials, including U.S. Rep Nydia Velazquez, City Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Dan Squadron and City Council member Margaret Chin, kicked off the fair with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Chin said business owners are right to call for more government aid to help them recover from Sandy, but added “we have to help ourselves.”
Other efforts are in the planning stages. The Chinatown BID and Chinatown Partnership are holding a fundraiser December 19 in support of a grant program for local businesses. It will take place at the Grand Harmony Restaurant, 98 Mott Street. You can RSVP for the event by calling 917-577-7003. Tickets are $25.
Click here for a video of Saturday’s event produced by the Kaimen Company, the creator of Chinatown Restaurant Week.