How I became “The accidental voice of Chinatown”
Since January 2020, my beloved Chinatown here in New York has been under siege. Due to the ongoing pandemic, a multitude of restaurants and businesses have closed permanently, while others struggle to remain open. Most restaurants that have survived are operating at a mere twenty percent of pre-COVID capacity, and this is not sustainable. Over the past months, as I watched this tragedy unfold, I realized Chinatown (actually Chinatowns everywhere) was in dire need of someone to speak for this treasured ethnic community wavering on the brink of extinction. It needed an advocate, a dedicated voice to rally the press and public to this crisis, and by sheer chance I became that person.
Yes, it seems I’ve become “the accidental voice of Chinatown,” as New York magazine’s Grub Street blog christened me in a recent article. Thankfully, a broad range of national media and food-related organizations (see below) have heard the call to save Chinatown and Chinese mom-and-pop restaurants all across the country: Splendid Table, Thrillist, and Buzzfeed have run interviews and stories as have Food & Wine and Today.com. Every mention helps because right now the one thing that’s needed is our steady patronage.
I invite you to join me, going forward, in supporting any and all efforts to save Chinatown and Chinese mom and pop businesses across the country. In January, I launched my own Support Chinatown Fund, in partnership with the grass-roots organization Welcome to Chinatown. My aim was to raise $20,000 to provide at least 2,000 nutritious hot meals for low-income, food-insecure, and at-risk senior residents in NYC. We just reached $32,000 which means we can provide 3,000 meals! Let’s keep it going! The meals will be purchased from legacy Chinatown restaurants Hop Kee, Hop Lee, Wo Hop (upstairs and downstairs) and distributed by community partners that serve neighbors in need. Your gift of $10 will help deliver a delicious meal for an in-need resident while providing critical income to struggling Chinatown eateries. I will keep you posted and I ask you just to keep showing up, especially now as Chinatown continues to face the challenges of winter weather. Thank you!
Here are some articles in case you want to read more about the work that I’m doing.
- Saving Chinatown with Grace Young (Splendid Table)
- Grace Young Continues to Advocate for the Chinatown Community (thrillist)
- The Accidental Voice for Chinatown (Grub Street)
- Why Grace Young is fighting to save Chinese restaurants (Today)
- KCRW discusses Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories (KCRW)
- This Campaign Is a Love Letter to Chinese Restaurants (Food&Wine)
- Grace Discusses Manhattan’s Chinatown on 1 Year Anniversary of COVID (TheWorld)
- Boston’s Chinatown Struggles to Survive (Boston Globe)
- 3 Chinatown Businesses Impacted by COVID (BuzzFeedNews)
- Grace in Chinatown for Lunar New Year (CBS NewYork)
- James Beard Announced #SaveChineseRestaurants Initiative (JamesBeard)
- Chinatown Stories Featured in Smithsonian Food History Weekend (National Museum of American History)
- Grace Young on ABC Localish (abc)
- Grace Young on The BBC (BBC)