It’s probably the toughest blow for Chinatown business since the start of the pandemic. Jing Fong, the neighborhood’s largest restaurant by far, announced the closure of its dining room at 20 Elizabeth St. The restaurant will keep its second floor kitchen going “until further notice” to support delivery, takeout and dining on its outdoor balcony. Indoor service will end March 7 at 8 p.m. The owners say they’re looking for a new space in Chinatown. Here’s the message Jing Fong posted on its social media:
First and foremost, THANK YOU everyone for the endless support this past year, it truly means a lot to us and we really appreciate each and every one of you all, from the bottom of our hearts. We are heartbroken to announce that our Chinatown location at 20 Elizabeth Street, will be permanently closing its indoor dining operation on March 7, 2021 at 8:00pm. We will continue to operate from the 2nd floor kitchen for our outside patio, take-out, and delivery until further notice. Please, join us safely for one last meal inside as we look back on all the memories we had here together. If you do not feel comfortable dining with us yet, no worries at all. We will continue to post memories shared with us on our stories. This is not the end for us, here at Chinatown, as we are actively looking for a new location to move into as soon as possible. We will keep you all updated as we figure out the next chapter for us. Jing Fong Upper West Side will not be affected by this closure and will continue its normal operations.
Jing Fong’s manager Truman Lam said in a statement, “With our drastic decline in sales and mounting losses sustained over the course of a year, we needed to make the tough call to close our indoor dining space and redirect our resources in hopes to continue our operations.” As Eater noted, Jing Fong has been a Chinatown institution since 1978 and has operated from its current location since 1992. Lam said sales were down at Jing Fong 85% from a year ago, amounting of losses as high as $6 million.
Due to racist and xenophobic attacks and rhetoric, foot traffic in Chinatown plummeted in February of last year. Jing Fong, with a dining room capacity of 800, is dependent on high volume. It definitely could not survive with 25% capacity for indoor dining. Jing Fong also made. a lot of its money from private events, banquets held by family associations and nonprofit organizations, and large weddings.
The closure of Jing Fong’s dining room is a tough break for other Chinatown businesses. Pre-pandemic, the restaurant brought hundreds of people to the neighborhood on the weekends. After dim sum, they’d often go shopping in Chinatown’s independently run stores. It also leaves the Chinatown community without a large banquet hall. Many groups hold events at places like Golden Unicorn, but no current venue could accommodate so many guests in one space.