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Reopenings: Outdoor Dining Campaign Launched To Help Struggling San Francisco Chinatown Restaurants

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The streets of San Francisco's Chinatown, normally teeming with tourists and local residents on a typical afternoon, have been relatively empty for months during the COVID-19 outbreak and current surge of new cases.

It's been a tough go particularly for restaurant owners, who have had to shutter their eateries since mid-March due to the business restrictions put into place prohibiting indoor dining to slow the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, officials with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinatown Community Development Center will launch a campaign to support outdoor dining in the district.

"Chinatown is what it is known for because of its restaurants and food culture," Chinese Chamber of Commerce officials said in a news release. "It's a 'community hub' for all people to gather and embrace Chinese culture. Unfortunately, Chinatown restaurants were the first in the city to be impacted and have suffered significant a decline in business since January of this year due to the combination of rising xenophobia along with shelter-in-place orders."

The business leaders said the financial impact of the shutdown has been dramatic.

"Many of these businesses are owned and operated ranging from small families who've just immigrated and being just opened for a month to multi-generation family businesses spanning several decades, from standing-only, cafes, and take out dim sum to a thousand seat banquet halls, and from ceremonial tea shops to Taiwanese fruit tea drinks," the chamber said in a release.

A recent Chinatown restaurant survey found that as high as one third of the restaurants will potentially close within the next six months.

"Many of Chinatown's restaurants are barely surviving, while many have reopened, they suffer huge revenue losses, hovering around 70%," the chamber leaders said.

From the survey feedback received from restaurants, the chamber said, owners unanimously agreed that they cannot survive on take out alone and expressed a huge interest in being able to provide outdoor dining.

The chamber and community development leaders were floating a plan that would include:

  • Participating businesses once qualified will receive a one-time financial grant, barricades and other
  • Participating businesses also will receive application process assistance for the city's Shared Spaces
    Program permit.

Interested businesses were asked to contact SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce at (415) 982-3000 for a simple one page application, deadline to submit an application is Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5 p.m.

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