Coronavirus fears plague Chinatown restaurant business nationwide
Chinese restaurants are suffering amid ongoing fears of the coronavirus
Widespread panic over the deadly coronavirus is plaguing business for restaurants in some Chinatown neighborhoods across the country.
Peking Duck House in New York City’s Chinatown has seen a decline in business and reservation cancellations for the last two weeks for lunch and dinner when waits are usually up to an hour long for a table amid the 15-day celebration of Chinese New Year.
“There’s no people coming. There’s no wait," James Tang, who works at Peking Duck House, told FOX Business Friday during lunch hours, adding that Chinatown has emptied out for the past two weeks. “It’s the whole Chinatown [neighborhood]; we don’t have business at all.”
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Tang says his family back home in Shanghai are staying home for their safety and have been unable to work as Chinese health officials say there have been more than 31,000 cases of the virus with the death toll exceeding 630. There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York, and 12 total confirmed cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, however, business owners have been hit especially hard with ongoing fears of the virus spreading.
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Tourist destination Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the nearly 100-year-old restaurant that attracts wrap-around lines for its dim sum among other specialties like scallion pancakes and steamed lotus buns in New York City's Chinatown, with another location in Philadelphia, has also seen a downturn.
"Business has been slow throughout the neighborhood. It definitely looks and feels like a ghost town — it's incredibly unsettling," said Barbara Leung, a spokeswoman for Nom Wah.
It definitely looks and feels like a ghost town — it's incredibly unsettling."
The restaurant's business has been down 40 percent and the owner has been letting workers go home early, Grubstreet reported.
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In San Francisco, foot traffic in the Chinatown neighborhood has declined by 50 percent since reports on the coronavirus outbreak emerged, according to the Chinese Merchants Association, as reported by Eater. And Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York, canceled its annual Lunar New Year Chinese Temple Bazaar celebration amid concerns over health risks.
Across the pond, restaurant owners in London’s Chinatown have also experienced a decline in business after two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in England, the New York Times reported.
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The respiratory illness is said to have originated in bats and can be spread from person-to-person contact producing symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath and coughing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.