Find survivors from “lift” ships

New York Times

A tragic year for Brooklyn’s Chinatown: “It’s very difficult”

New York — The first virus outbreak. John Chan states that restaurant sales have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since then, anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed, causing some people to become anxious and stay home and away from restaurants, further damaging their businesses. “Heaven seems to be fooling us,” said Chan, a community leader in Brooklyn’s Chinatown and owner of the Golden Imperial Palace, a cave-like dining room there. More than a year after the pandemic first hit New York, the streets of Sunset Park in southern Brooklyn are intertwined with the deep, unhealed wounds of the pandemic, intertwined with signs that neighbors are slowly reviving. It reflects that. Sign up for The New York Times The Morning Newsletter. The sidewalks are full of shoppers and vendors, and more companies are open and welcoming customers. However, owners are still struggling to pay the rent and bring the company to the surface. Many workers who were dismissed after the city was closed last year are still out of work. And while vaccination rates in New York have increased significantly, the coronavirus still pervades this densely populated area. Zip codes, including Sunset Park, which has a large Latin population, had the highest percentage of positive cases in Brooklyn in early April, almost double the percentage of the city as a whole. Some residents are skeptical about the vaccine, surprised by the false information disseminated on TikTok and other social media. Hate crimes and violence against Asians in New York and across the country are increasing stress, supported by racist claims that Asian Americans are responsible for the spread of the virus. .. “I’m telling you, if things don’t get better, I’m done. It’s really done,” Chan said, explaining his lasting financial challenge. “And now we have to deal with this discrimination against us.” As he sits in an almost empty restaurant in Sunset Park, the lyrics of an old Hong Kong pop song are big LEDs. I ran quietly across the bottom of the screen. Next to the banquet table, boxes of T-shirts with the words “Stop Asian Hate” were piled up. Nicole Huang, who has a close relationship with the business community and has local mutual aid activities, has a restaurant, clothing store, hair dressing shop, etc. during a pandemic on 8th Avenue, the commercial center of the neighborhood. , It is estimated that about 30 facilities have been completely closed. .. Mr Chan said he had fired 80 of the 100 workers and did not recall anyone. Like other restaurant owners, he tried to set up a tent in the parking lot, taking advantage of outdoor dining. But after being hit by a strong wind last November, he saw it as a bad sign and gave up. Bunsen Chu, who runs a hairdressing shop on 8th and 50th streets, closed the salon two weeks before the city was officially closed after reading a dispatch from China last year. He also stocked up on face masks long before many other New Yorkers. Still, it had little effect in isolating him from the pandemic economic onslaught. Before the outbreak, many of Zhu’s customers were temporary Chinese workers, usually spending a short time in the neighborhood before fanning out nationwide to work in restaurants. But when the death toll surged in New York last spring, many of them didn’t come back and haven’t come back yet, hurting companies that depend on them. “It’s very difficult,” said 36-year-old Zhu when he stretched out on his dressing shop sofa. The employee was sitting on the other end and sleeping soundly. “You starve at home or somehow try to make ends meet.” Like most of the people interviewed for this article, Zhu spoke in Mandarin. Zhu used to have more than 12 customers a day, but now he counts them. He was able to keep paying the rent after the landlord gave him a small discount, but he refused to provide the details and is in a bad mood about what the rest of the year will bring. “We are waiting for this to finally be blown away,” Zhu said. At Pacific Palace, a dim sum parlor down the street from Zhu’s salon, customers are slowly returning, but not enough for the restaurant to make a profit. According to manager Janet Yang, the pandemic blockade has postponed the restaurant’s 40 weddings and fired all but four of the restaurant’s 60 employees. “We have tried so many things to survive,” said Yang. The restaurant first started offering takeaway and now accounts for one-third of the business. Outdoor seating, sometimes known for hosting large-scale celebrations of the type that had been banned for months, did not attract many. “Noise levels are back,” said Yang, pointing to a larger crowd on the street. “But overall, I feel the neighborhood isn’t recovering.” Justin Chen, 54, is one of the four remaining employees in the restaurant after being fired in March. , I came back to work as a waiter last September. As the months went by, he remembered, “We will eat less and less and eat cheaper food.” Pacific Palace has transformed some of its outdoor space into a market. There, a woman recently sat down to oversee the sale of packaged products such as Chinese cookies and goji berry bags. There were few customers. The man took oysters and fish out of a styrofoam box and competed with a large storefront fishmonger with a box of iced seafood on the sidewalk. Not far away, a woman was selling black chicken and duck meat. It was unclear if she had the necessary license to sell raw poultry. “It’s just a little job to make money to eat a bit more food,” said Jiang, a woman, when she picked a lost feather from a chicken. Mr. Jiang (61) gave only her name for fear of getting the attention of the authorities. She jumped from the poultry rowing table to another table selling earrings and bracelets. She lives in the neighborhood with her husband and son, but when the pandemic broke out, she worked at a Chinese restaurant in Florida. As the restaurant closed, Jiang returned to Sunset Park. Not far away, Naian Yu, who runs a small garment factory around the neighborhood, said he was absorbed in saving and worried about how long he could catch up with the $ 8,000 / month rent. .. After signing a contract with a company that supplies local hospitals last year, we switched from supplying clothing to department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s to manufacturing personal protective equipment. Work became essential after the department store contracts were exhausted, but then the protective equipment contracts were suspended in December, and he and his employees were surprised. “It was our lifeline,” Yu said. Orders from department stores have resumed, but have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, he said. The struggle of renters to pay rent also compels small landlords who have mortgages or invoices to pay for themselves. Abdallah Demes is still looking for someone to fill the storefront of his owned building on 8th Avenue. He released his former tenant from the lease a few months before it expired two years ago. The tenant had subleased space to a porcelain store, but said it had to close during the blockade as an unnecessary business and the tenant couldn’t afford to pay Demes more than $ 4,000 a month. Demes offered two months of rent free of charge. “‘Just stay,’ I told him,” he said. “But we both knew that the business couldn’t survive beyond the two-month free period. That was right.” Masao Chung, 60, who runs an underground mahjong store, said. As a “method of relieving stress,” he said the players had come to play for hours at a time. At Chuan World, a restaurant in Sichuan, manager Queeny Dong was less worried about business rebounds than a social media post asking questions about the safety of the corona virus vaccine. Thirty-year-old Don said he became afraid after the phone was filled with TikTok videos and WeChat posts falsely claimed that the vaccine was harmful and even fatal. “Young people feel we should be fine,” Don said. “We believe that a mask is sufficient and that we can survive a coronavirus infection.” After weeks of debate, her desire to protect her overcome her anxiety and she Was to be vaccinated. According to city health data, about one-third of Sunset Park residents receive at least one vaccination at levels that are about the same as the city as a whole. But local leaders want to increase that number. Kuan Neng, a 49-year-old monk who founded the Xi Fang Temple on 8th Avenue, said people have come to him in recent weeks to express concerns about vaccines. “Why do I need to do that?” According to Quan, this is a common refrain and continues as follows: The difficult times are more or less over. “Many people want to see it late,” Kuan said. Yu Lin, who runs two day care centers in the district, including Sunset Park, and is running for a seat in the city council, was infected with the virus last year, as was his wife and two children. He has recently been vaccinated and encourages members to take their shots while he is campaigning for the office. “People believe that real people are involved, rather than getting information from traditional media,” he said. “I tell them my experience, there is nothing to be afraid of except for a little muscle soreness.” Dim sum parlor manager Yang looks forward to the vaccine. “Everything is conditional on the city opening,” she said. At the counter near the entrance, there was a red sign in Chinese. It is a prayer for good luck. Next to it stood a cat figurine believed to bring good luck. One of its arms stretched into the air. Yang pointed to it and said, “The beckoning cat has no batteries.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company