Tel Aviv Chinese restaurant hit hard by coronavirus

China Court has seen a 50-60% drop in customers

Fai Tang at China Court (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Fai Tang at China Court
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
As fears over the novel coronavirus continue to spread in Israel and across the world, one Chinese restaurant in central Tel Aviv has seen business drop significantly.
“We have noticed at least a 50% to 60% decline in customers who come here, though recently it’s been a little bit better,” restaurant manager Fai Tang told The Jerusalem Post. “Same with deliveries. There’s been the same decline.”
The restaurant was opened by Tang’s parents, who came from Hong Kong. It has been a staple on Shalom Aleichem Street, walking distance to the US Embassy branch office, for close to 30 years.
“Those who come here come to support us,” Tang said, adding that there are some people who are afraid of the virus but still come to support the business.
Most of the restaurant’s clientele is Chinese, but many Israelis and North Americans also are regular customers, he said. All the cooks are Chinese, but not one has left Israel over the past four years, he added.
When the Post dropped in for a meal, instead of dozens of tables full of steaming food and satisfied customers, the restaurant was empty. Midway through, one man entered and ordered something to eat, but no one else wandered in.
Tang told the Post he understands why people are so concerned about the virus, which has spread across the globe and claimed thousands of lives. He recounted one incident of two Israelis who sat next to a table of Taiwanese earlier in the day and were afraid they had just come from China.
“I told them no, that they live here, they work in the Taiwanese Embassy,” he said “But they didn’t know, and they were panicking.”
While business has been hit hard, Tang said, “in Israel, everything is expensive, especially the rent. So we would rather have 40% of our original customers and not just close the restaurant and not earn anything.”
There is hope a solution will be found to contain the deadly virus, he said, but it would take months for the restaurant to return to normal.
“I think it will take more than half a year for business to go back to usual,” Tang said.
As of Thursday, 15 Israelis have been diagnosed with the virus and 60,000 to 70,000 are in quarantine. The Health Ministry on Wednesday issued new instructions and warnings to citizens and visitors to prevent the spread of Covid-19.