Stories / Impact

Grace Young Is Not Giving Up on Chinese Restaurants

Grace Young

October 21, 2020


Chinatown window photo by Dave Krugman
Photo: Dave Krugman

Although cities nationwide have since re-opened for limited restaurant business, Chinese restaurants around the country continue to experience unprecedented economic hardship. In April, Business Insider reported 233,000 Asian-American small businesses had closed, and CNN estimated 59 percent of independently owned Chinese restaurants nationwide had ceased credit card and debit card transactions, implying they had permanently shuttered.

It’s been particularly heartbreaking for me, as a Chinese American, to witness the closing of legacy businesses and restaurants that have been part of their communities for decades, some dating back over 60 years.

In New York and San Francisco’s Chinatowns, the pandemic wiped out a steady customer base of both tourism and walk-in traffic from office workers. Now facing back rent and mounting bills, and with the onset of cold weather and limited indoor dining, barely surviving establishments are hanging on by sheer grit. We urgently need the #SaveChineseRestaurants campaign, which asks each of us—including family and friends—to support these restaurants just by showing up, either for takeout or dining in.

Grace Young headshot photo by Christine Han/kitchn
Grace Young (photo: Christine Han/kitchn)

Here are six simple ways to support your local Chinese-American businesses:

  • Plan for Takeout Tuesdays and Thursdays: set aside one or two days a week for a favorite Chinese takeout meal. If restaurants offer frozen dumplings, buy them for always-on-hand snacks or meals.
  • D.I.Y. Takeout: instead of ordering for delivery through an app (most of which charge large markups to restaurateurs), get some exercise and do your own pickup. While you’re at it, pick up for friends who can’t go out or for needy friends who can’t afford the cost of a hot meal. If you’re unable to pick up, tip delivery people as generously as possible.
  • Pay Cash: using cash for everything, from food to souvenirs, saves businesses the fees charged by credit card companies. And as noted above, don’t forget to tip generously for food and services!
  • Everyday Shopping: if you live in a city with a Chinatown, take advantage of shopping while you’re picking up your takeout. Just about everything is available at great prices: groceries and fresh produce for home cooking, bubble tea and dessert items, gifts and souvenirs, housewares, and so much more.
  • Gift Cards: restaurants are happy to sell gift cards. Buy them as gifts for friends and relatives who you know love Chinese food. If an establishment also sells fun items like mugs and t-shirts, add that on, too—it’s another way to support the eatery.
  • Write Reviews: now’s the time show your support on Yelp and Google for your local Chinese restaurants with online reviews that mention special dishes or the experience you’ve enjoyed there. Every voice counts as we pull together for the survival of these beloved businesses.

This is a crisis and without steady patronage, these businesses will not survive. I truly believe if we all pitch in, we can save these eateries and treasured ethnic neighborhoods everywhere. So get out there and #SaveChineseRestaurants!

Join our Instagram campaign to #SaveChineseRestaurants:


  • Post a photo of your favorite dish from your local Chinese restaurant (takeout or dine-in) on Instagram with the hashtag #SaveChineseRestaurants and nominate your friends and followers to do the same.
  • Tag @beardfoundation and we’ll repost some of our favorites!

Learn more about the #SaveChineseRestaurants campaign and how you can keep independent restaurants open for good.


Open for Good is a campaign which aims to help independent restaurants survive this crisis, rebuild better, and thrive for the long term.

Grace Young is a James Beard Award–winning cookbook author, culinary historian, stir fry guru, and wok therapist. Learn more about her work at