Asian-owned restaurants in Philadelphia struggle through pandemic

Maggie Kent Image
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Asian-owned restaurants in Philadelphia struggle through pandemic
The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation has seen a downward trend in Chinatown business.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Restaurants in Chinatown thrive off of foot traffic- conveniently located near downtown office buildings, tourism hotspots and the convention center.

But as they've closed, so have businesses.

"Everyone is working remotely now, so there's a lot of nothing coming from them," Michael Ha owner of QT Vietnamese Restaurant.

Michael Ha owns QT Vietnamese Sandwich shop on North 10th Street. Without the office lunch crowd, conventions or the typical tourism boom the summer brings, he's struggling.

"Up to now our business is done 30-40% on foot traffic, so we had to cut back on staffing. It's just me and a relative helping out," said Ha.

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He's not alone. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation has seen a trend in Chinatown business.

"At least 40 percent are still closed today. The ones that are open, the food businesses and restaurants, they are doing their best to provide takeout. The challenge for them is that some of them don't have the technology or social media presence to capture the carry out market," says John Chin of the Philadephia Chinatown Development Corporation.

To help, the PCDC will launch the "I Love Chinatown" campaign to encourage Philadelphians to treat a trip to the neighborhood as a destination.

Ascend, Pan-Asian business leaders non-profit, started a program called "Feed Your Hospital Philadelphia," which has donated 610 meals purchased at Asian-owned restaurants to local hospitals.

"To be able to support the restaurants and keep some business flowing to them and help thank and feed our healthcare workers," says Ken Wong of Ascend.

One thing surviving restaurant owners want you to know: "Hopefully as time passes, more people will realize that we are open," says Michael Ha.

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation says translation is also a hurdle for Asian business owners looking to take advantage of available grants and programs. All of the information the PCDC receives is translated and disseminated to Chinatown businesses.