Vulcan Inc. has announced a donation of $100,000 to support locally owned restaurants in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, which were hit early and hard by fears of the novel coronavirus. The money from Vulcan, which has had its headquarters in the neighborhood for two decades, will establish a COVID-19 Response Fund that the company says “will deploy rapid cash grants through a simple, low-barrier application process.” Chinatown-ID restaurateurs may find out how to apply at the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) website (that organization, along with the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Association and Friends of Little Saigon, will administer the fund).
Fans of the neighborhood’s many beloved restaurants may donate to help at scidpda.org/cidbizrelief (with Vulcan employees’ first $25,000 in gifts matched by the company). We can also support those Chinatown-ID restaurants that remain open for takeout and/or delivery with our money and mouths — these include A+ Hong Kong Kitchen (which my colleague David Gutman loves, and he knows his food), Jade Garden (a longtime dim sum favorite), Kau Kau (known for excellent roast duck and, hey, also recently featured in the New York Times), Tai Tung (an official and marvelous Seattle Restaurant Classic), and Tsukushinbo (a sweet little sushi spot said to have been a favorite of Ichiro Suzuki). (Find more info on Seattle restaurants serving takeout and/or delivery here, with a form at the bottom to add any missing ones.)
The situation for Seattle restaurants looks dire as the mandatory citywide dining-in shutdown due to COVID-19 appears likely to last not weeks, but months, with the same trouble extending into cities across the country. The New York Times reports that experts currently estimate that 75 percent of the independent restaurants in the U.S. that have been closed for the coronavirus pandemic will be closed for good, while the James Beard Foundation estimates that up to seven million people have been laid off industrywide. While grants like the Vulcan one are helpful — as are our donations and efforts to assist via eating takeout/delivery (and tipping big) — chefs, restaurateurs and diners-out are calling for local and federal governments to do more, and do it right away. The change.org petition “Save America’s Restaurants” — authored by a group of nationally prominent chefs and signed by, at this writing, 286,686 individuals — calls for unemployment benefits for all restaurant workers, among other specific measures.
“Without swift action and commitment from our local and state governments, many of the restaurants that closed voluntarily — or by mandate — at this moment of crisis will not come back,” the change.org petition reads. “That sounds like an exaggeration. It is not. We are on the brink of extinction.”