Jing Fong, once Chinatown’s largest restaurant, will completely vacate its space at 20 Elizabeth St. by the end of the month. The dim sum destination and banquet venue closed its 800-seat dining room back in March, promising to find a new smaller location somewhere in the neighborhood. That’s apparently happening. Claudia Leo, the restaurant’s marketing manager, told the New York Post that Jing Fong would move to a 125-seat spot in late June, although she did not disclose the location.
The restaurant had kept a kitchen going even after the dining room went dark to support outdoor dining, takeout and delivery. While it’s a positive sign that Jing Fong may survive in some form, the downscaling leaves Chinatown without a large banquet hall. That’s something many family associations and nonprofit groups counted on for large gatherings, especially during Lunar New Year celebrations.
Management at Golden Unicorn, the second largest restaurant in Chinatown, is also sounding the alarm. Through n interpreter, owner Johnny Liu said, “We need more support on the government level.” Although indoor dining was raised to 50% capacity (and will soon rise to 75%), Liu noted that Golden Unicorn is only bringing 10-20% of its pre-pandemic revenues.
Chinatown business owners and community organizers have called on the city to provide specific programs to help the neighborhood recover not only from the pandemic, but from the wave of xenophobia and racist attacks aimed at Asian Americans.
The NYC Department of Small Business Services has increased outreach and has been publicizing the federal government’s new Restaurant Revitalization Fund, but has not created any Chinatown-specific programs.