Chinese restaurants in Toronto continue to struggle to fill tables
Despite the fact that the number of coronavirus cases in Ontario have levelled to zero, fears of the illness continue to impact Chinese restaurants across the GTA.
Nearly a month since news of the novel coronavirus first hit news cycles, followed by reports of increased racism and discrimination against the Chinese community in Toronto, businesses continue to report a significant decrease in traffic.
For most restaurants, acitivity has decreased by 20 to 30 per cent —and those are considered good numbers, says Anna Luo, a marketing director at Blue Oceans, a PR company which represents a slew of exclusively Chinese-owned restaurants across the city like the Sichuanese chain Hotopia.
"Areas where there are families living are especially hit hard," says Luo. Parents with children or elderly family members tend to be extra careful, meaning businesses in the suburbs are particularly—albeit, unfairly—avoided.
While downtown restaurants like Yueh Tung have hit Instagram to talk aboout dwindling business, areas like Markham (where the beleaguered business Wuhan Noodle 1950 was hit by prank calls and racist attacks) and Richmond Hill have it especially tough, says Luo.
One client in Richmond Hill (Luo would not specify which, for security reasons), has seen a 90% decrease in traffic. It's an overwhelming loss of sales that restaurants hope to counter with some recent city initiatives.
"The government taking action has helped," says Luo, referring to projects like Asialicious, a two week-long food festival co-signed by Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti to urge more people to eat at Asian-owned restaurants.
"I think that when the situation in China gets better, it will be better in our local market," she says.
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