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Jing Fong Protesters Call on Landlord to Save Chinatown’s Largest Restaurant

Plus, mutual aid workers are excluded from the city’s latest vaccination rollout — and more intel

A grainy photograph of a sprawling empty dining room whose lights are partially dimmed.
The indoor dining room at Jing Fong can hold 794 people at full capacity
Gary He/Eater

Protesters call on Jing Fong landlord to keep its indoor dining room open

More than 70 people gathered outside of Eastbank in Chinatown on Tuesday, swarming the sidewalks of Centre and Canal streets to demand that decades-old dim sum restaurant Jing Fong keep its dining room open. The protest consisted of Lower Manhattan residents and Jing Fong employees, many of whom are members of the 318 Restaurant Workers Union. Their calls to “Save Jing Fong!” and “Protect Chinatown!” were followed by chants directed at Alex Chu, the restaurant’s landlord and the owner of Eastbank, to come to an agreement to keep the dining room open. Jing Fong, which previously announced that it would close its indoor dining room on March 7, is one of few unionized restaurants in New York City. Nelson Mar, president of the 318 Restaurant Workers Union, issued a letter to Chu with a list of demands and a proposal to reopen the dining room.

In February, third-generation owner and manager Truman Lam announced that Jing Fong would be permanently closing its indoor dining room on March 7, citing “drastic decline in sales and mounting losses sustained over the course of a year.” Sales at the restaurant are down 85 percent year-over-year, Lam estimates, which translates to a loss of about $5 to 6 million so far. With a capacity of 794 people, Jing Fong’s dining room is one of the largest in New York City and was one of the earliest to close after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last March. The restaurant will continue to offer takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining as part of an agreement with its landlord to use the building’s kitchen rent-free on a month-to-month basis, but more than 100 workers will lose their jobs.

“Jing Fong’s base rent has remained the same since 1993 — and the restaurant hasn’t paid any rent for the last 12 months,” Jonathan Chu of Chu Enterprises said in a statement to AMNY. “My family has been loyal patrons of Jing Fong for decades, standing shoulder to shoulder with employees on holidays and during important life events.”

In other news

— Emergency food workers and volunteers with nonprofits tackling food insecurity can schedule appointments to get vaccinated beginning this week. Notably, mutual aid workers were excluded from the latest vaccination rollout.

— Chef Mashama Bailey of celebrated Savannah restaurant The Grey will shift her residency at Intersect by Lexus from takeout and delivery only to indoor dining on March 25, according to a spokesperson. A newly renovated first-floor lounge is also debuting that day featuring small plates from Intersect’s executive chef Nickolas Martinez. It’ll be the first time indoor dining has been offered at Intersect since last March.

— Asian home cooking company Omsom announced a new partnership with Disney this week (you read that right), ahead of the release of upcoming film Raya and the Last Dragon.

— Less than 24 hours after launching a fundraiser on GoFundMe, Chinatown favorite Spicy Village has already raised more $11,000 at the time of writing.

— Ridgewood, Queens-based brewer Evil Twin dropped a new beer can that embodies everything we feel after one year of coronavirus.

— Brooklyn restaurants Olmsted and Mayfield discuss pivoting during the pandemic on the Today Show.

— Scott Lynch at Gothamist finds “superb” pizza the newly opened Impasto in Clinton Hill.

— We don’t make the rules, we just retweet them: