In Chinatown, Immigrant Shopkeepers Fare the Worst [OP-ED]

Posted on: May 1st, 2020 at 5:14 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

In an encouraging sign, some Chinatown shops have started reopening after six weeks of Covid-19 lockdown.

The governor’s ban on non-essentials and public gatherings forced most businesses to the sidelines, but several restaurants offered takeout and three supermarkets stayed open. In a welcome sign, three back-to-back dessert places on Bayard Street returned to the fray – Chinatown Ice Cream FactoryYi-Fang Tea and Sweet House. This week, they were joined by Yue Wong BBQ also on Bayard, Tokyo Mart, and Chinatown’s favorite fruit stand on the corner of Canal.

Photo: Karlin Chan

The ban on non-essential business has created confusion for many immigrant shopkeepers. Especially those who have no access to the internet or who had difficulty navigating the English-language application process for small business loans and grants offered by the stimulus package. Some owners sheltered at home were not even aware of these grants and loans due to a breakdown within the community in dessimating the information.

Photo: Karlin Chan

While some business associations may maintain a database of member shopkeeper information, most are not members and were left in the dark. One would hope moving forward, once the lockdown is lifted, a nonprofit or community based organization would populate a contact database of all Chinatown business names, addresses and owners to prepare for the next emergency.

Recent Stories

The City is Demolishing 70 Mulberry Street without Chinatown Input

Four months after a devastating five-alarm fire, it seems the city is content to let 70 Mulberry Street meet the wrecking ball. The Department of Buikdings and Department of Citywide Administrative Services together Plan full demolition, without community input. Roughly a dozen concerned Chinatown residents “attended” the Community Board 3 Land Use committee meeting last […]

Thieves Continue to Target ‘Ginger & Lemongrass’ on Rivington Street

With coronavirus lockdown the new normal, crime is seemingly on the rise around the Lower East Side. And Ginger & Lemongrass, the two-year-old Vietnamese restaurant at 153 Rivington Street, is apparently a ripe target. The business last week fell victim to theft for the second time in as many months. “The Lower East Side is […]

There is Now a Wall of Face Mask Vending Machines on Delancey Street

On Delancey Street, face mask vending machines are multiplying like mogwai in a bathtub. Where there was one, there are now three servicing the neighborhood. As first reported on Bowery Boogie, entrepreneur David Edelman of RapidMask2Go placed a single vending machine outside 156 Delancey in late-April. Its placement went viral, and the story hit the […]

Lower East Side Ferry Route Permanently Reconfigured Due to Poor Ridership

Spring and summer usually see peak ridership for the city’s nascent ferry system. However, as with everything else these days, the novel coronavirus got in the way. In response to the ongoing crisis, the NYC Ferry program is reducing service by an additional 20-percent. Three routes are permanently reconfigured, including the Corlears Hook line, which […]

Scarr’s Pizza Reopens Today for Pickup and Delivery

On the sidelines for two months, Scarr’s Pizza reopens on the Lower East Side today. The popular Orchard Street pizzeria had shuttered in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic seized control of the city. Customers can order only for pickup or delivery (via Caviar); no slices. Still no word on how this extended closure ultimately […]