Editor’s Note: After we published this story, Jing Fong’s workers began rallying to keep the iconic restaurant’s dining room open. According to Documented NY, these workers are fighting for their jobs but also to keep Chinatown’s only restaurant workers union alive. For more on the March 2nd protest organized by 318 Restaurant Workers Union and Youth Against Displacement, head here.
Jing Fong’s legendary Chinatown banquet hall will permanently close on March 7th after almost 30 years of operation on Elizabeth Street. In a press release email on February 19th, the restaurant cited major financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the main cause for its upcoming dining room closure.
The restaurant’s announcement came on the same day that Governor Cuomo announced the expansion of New York City’s indoor dining capacity from 25% to 35%, which starts February 26th. But the adjustment of indoor dining restrictions wasn’t enough to save this iconic dim sum spot. “With our drastic decline in sales and mounting losses sustained over the course of a year, we needed to make the tough call to close our indoor dining space and redirect our resources in hopes to continue our operations,” said third-generation owner and manager Truman Lam.
As Manhattan’s largest Chinese restaurant, diners have to ride an escalator to reach Jing Fong’s third-floor dining room, which spans a whopping 20,000 square feet and comfortably seats up to 800 people under giant chandeliers. The packed room has been the lively site of several of our favorite dim sum brunches over the years, and their bacon-wrapped shrimp, plump pork buns, and chicken feet were some of the first dishes we recommended to out-of-towners.
Throughout 2020, many of Chinatown’s independently-owned restaurants lost business due to racism and xenophobia related to COVID-19. In late October, Jing Fong reopened its dining room in hopes that New Yorkers would once again ride the escalator up to its palatial third-floor seating area. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s closing announcement followed just four months later.
In an Instagram post informing the public of its closing, Jing Fong announced that it is actively looking for a new location to move into soon. Its second location on the Upper West Side, which opened back in 2017, will remain open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery service.
You can still dine inside Chinatown’s largest dim sum palace before the restaurant officially closes in two weeks by calling 212-964-5256 to make a brunch or dinner reservation. Or you can support them by purchasing a hoodie, T-shirt, or some of the other merch on their website. And while you won’t be able to dine inside Jing Fong in Chinatown after March 7th, you can still have a meal on their outdoor patio or order takeout and delivery online.
For a full list of NYC restaurant closings, click here.