NEW YORK - The owner of Amazing 66 on Mott Street in Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood says, normally, the tables are full during lunch hour. But over the last week business has taken a big hit, down at least 50 percent.
“Instantly you will see nobody show up, nobody's around, not even people on the street walking,” said Helen Ng, Owner, Amazing 66 Restaurant.
That's the case across Chinatown, according to business owners and elected officials, as customers stay away amid fears of the new coronavirus in China.
So far, no cases of the potentially deadly respiratory illness have been confirmed in the city, but visitors are still staying away from Manhattan's Chinatown and other Chinese communities across the city.
“The fear and the prejudice has to stop today. There are a lot of things in the social media and the news that are at best not rooted in science, and at worst offensive, demeaning and racist,” said Carlina Rivera, City Councilwoman.
Business leaders are now launching a campaign to get people to come back to Manhattan's Chinatown.
“We need some tender loving care,” said one business leader.
They say businesses here are suffering a decline in revenues of 40 to 80 percent, and it's not just because of fears about the virus. The number of people visiting from China also is down, because airlines have canceled flights between the two countries and the U.S. has banned non-citizens who traveled recently to China from entry.
Even before fears of the new coronavirus soared, Chinatown had been suffering, after a massive fire last month tore through a historic building.
“We got a lot to offer in this community, and, yes, we have to turn a crisis into opportunity,” said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
One way the community is trying to get people to spend more money is by holding a raffle. The Chinatown Partnership and the Chinatown BID say if you bring a receipt from a local business to their Kiosk on Baxter and Canal you will be entered into a raffle to win a variety of prizes, including an iPhone.
The general manager of Bo Ky restaurant says the campaign may already be helping. His restaurant was busy during lunch, after days of lost business.
“In general my business has been slow for the past week,” said Chi Vy Ngo, General Manager, New York Bo Ky Restaurant.
He's hoping the crowds aren't a one-day blip, and that they keep on coming.