Jing Fong, NYC’s largest Chinese restaurant, temporarily closes as coronavirus hurts business

Jing Fong, the city’s largest Chinese restaurant, has closed.

After 48 years in business, the iconic restaurant known for its classic dim sum carts, is shuttering due to a slowdown triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, said Claudia Leo, the restaurant’s marketing director.

The decision was made on Thursday, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that gatherings of 500 people or more will be banned.

Jing Fong on Elizabeth Street has almost 800 seats. It was founded in 1972 by the grandfather of the current owner, Truman Lam.

Truman Lam, owner of the Jing Fong Restaurant, poses for a photograph in his restaurant at 20 Elizabeth Street in Chinatown.
Truman Lam, owner of Jing Fong, poses for a photograph in his restaurant at 20 Elizabeth St. in Chinatown.Stefan Jeremiah

A smaller outpost of the eatery on the Upper West Side will remain open.

“Business there is down 30% to 40% but that is acceptable for now until further notice. But Chinatown has closed,” Leo said.

“We were going back and forth on what to do all day,” Leo said, adding that they considered “shrinking” the seating to less than half its full capacity.

“It is all happening very fast. We were trying to take it all in. It is the best decision for everyone’s sake,” she said.

Still, she added, it was a difficult decision.

The restaurant still has enough food to feed 3,000 people.

“What will we do with the food? We will have to toss it out,” she said.

Leo said they hope to re-open at some unknown date in the future.

“We will re-open when everything passes. Honestly we have no idea when. Maybe when there is a vaccine and a cure but there is no light at the end of this tunnel right now,” Leo said.