Chinatown Dining Week invites diners to try something tasty
‘For the last year it’s been really slow in the downtown area,’ says noodle house owner
Chinatown restaurant owners are hoping a volunteer-run dining week could lead to more customers and an end to a slow year.
Five restaurants in the area just east of downtown are participating in Chinatown Dining Week, offering $15 fixed menu specials from Jan. 20 to 28.
At Cui Hua Gui Lin Noodle House in the heart of Chinatown, Tony Young makes noodle dishes of Gui Lin style from southern China. He says his is the only restaurant in the city specializing in that style.
When he moved to Edmonton from Toronto three years ago and opened up in Chinatown, business was good. But more recently he has noticed fewer people coming to dine at the area's restaurants.
"Before last year we were doing OK, but for the last year it's been really slow in the downtown area," said Young. "Hopefully for the coming year it will be much better."
Across the street at Taipan Café, a restaurant that has been cooking up Chinese classics for close to 30 years, the manager has noticed a similar trend.
"We used to be busy two or three years ago, like it was packed at night time," Gabriel Ho said. "We used to be open until 4 o'clock in the morning."
Viphalay Laos and Thai Restaurant might be an outlier as business is still pretty good. But owner Lily Mounma has noticed an increase in delivery and take-out orders.
"By the end of last year it was 30 per cent of our sales," Mounma said. "So you do notice a lot of people dining in less and taking out more. I guess you just have be accommodating to that."
Mounma hopes dining week will bring in more diners. People who eat in the area's restaurants are more likely to explore the bakeries and grocery stores, Mounma said.
"I think it's just a way to remind people what restaurants are here," she said. "To bring people into the community to realize that there's actually so much potential."
Young and other restaurant owners who have seen fewer customers stop in for food think more Asian restaurants have been popping up in suburban neighbourhoods, allowing potential customers to stay closer to home instead of venturing to Chinatown.
But Young is hoping the dining week will remind customers to return to Chinatown, and encourage first-timers to give it a shot.
"Hopefully if my business keeps going, like getting better, I will stay here for the rest of my life," he said.