Losing legacy Chinese restaurants and stores in New York City

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Grace Young interviewed four restaurant owners in Manhattan’s Chinatown last spring. According to Young, “This image is very powerful to me. It’s from Hop Kee on March 15th. I’m used to a Chinese restaurant being a noisy, busy hub of woks clamoring, prep cooks chopping, dishwashers cleaning. On March 15th, when we arrived in Hop Kee’s kitchen there was no cooking. It was silent. The dining room, which can seat 168 customers, had about three people.” Photo courtesy of Grace Young.

As the pandemic took hold of the nation, one community in particular began to crack early — New York City’s Chinatown. Faced with economic concerns and xenophobic fears, Chinese restaurants faced a sobering future. Author and culinary historian Grace Young co-created “Coronavirus Chinatown Stories,” which shares the narratives of small business owners struggling to stay open in the wake of the pandemic. Join the movement of supporting your local restaurants. Post a photo of your favorite dish from a local takeout or delivery on Instagram with the hashtag #SaveChineseRestaurants, then nominate your friends and followers to do the same.



Evan Kleiman