What's Killing Off The Great Chinese Banquet Facilities of Monterey Park?

#1

As @lafoodiepanda posted on another thread, Ocean Star Seafood closed down several days ago. On top of the recent closure of Empress Harbor Seafood just steps away on Atlantic Blvd., this makes one wonder exactly what is going on. Both of these restaurants serve cart dim sum, Cantonese food at night, and do a heavy banquet trade. It wasn’t that long ago that if you were planning a Chinese wedding banquet you’d have to book almost a year in advance for prime weekend dates, or even months in advance for off season wedding openings. Has the Chinese wedding banquet trade fallen off that much in favor of alternative style wedding venues that today’s Chinese American millennials prefer? And where do people with Ocean Star banquet reservations go (such as the upcoming Nancy Pelosi fundraiser) on such short notice? I do remember my last dinner visit to Ocean Star where there were fewer than 10 total diners, with most of the cavernous space blocked off, but it still seemed full for weekend dimsum, which would seem to be enough to keep it going. Any ideas on what’s going on out there?

#2

I have no idea what issues might be leading to such a steep decline, but hearing that Ocean Star closed hurt a bit b/c that place was such a big part of my childhood.

Would it? I don’t know much about restaurant financials, but, depending on the lease and # of people employed, I actually do wonder if full weekends would be enough to keep the place open. Rent in MP is probably not a lot per sq ft (vs. westside), but that place was HUGE.

#3

My mom goes to association banquets at 888. She’s a retiree…I wonder if only a certain demographic is going to these places anymore?

#4

Ocean Star had been an empty place for many years now so I’m surprised that they hadn’t closed down sooner.

#5

Understanding the financials would be fascinating. Sounds like the revenue they brought in probably wouldn’t be enough to cover the rent. Or maybe the real estate appreciated enough that it makes more sense to sell, if they own?

I don’t think I had set foot in Ocean Star for a while now. It’s just so dirty, and old feeling, compared to , say, Lunasia, Longo Seafood, or Sea Harbor.

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#6

I read a piece about Katz’s Deli and they admit that probably the only reason they’re still in business is because they own the building.

#7

I imagine that holds true for a lot of business (and not just the restaurant biz, either).

This was my thought, too. It was fun to visit for a blast from the past, but the food is better elsewhere and, if there was a price difference, it was insignificant to me.

#8

Off-topic but for residential renters also.

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#9

I know the owner of Empress Harbor. From what I gather, the reasons for its closure were unrelated to the aforementioned trends.

#10

Wasn’t it sold to new ownership some months back before closure?

#11

This should have been me…but I chose to disappoint my parents by having an American wedding in Vegas. We compromised with a rehearsal dinner at a Chinese banquet style restaurant before hand…but without the banquet.

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#12

Sounds strangely familiar. Care to elaborate on the venue?

#13

married at Aria, reception at Wicked Spoon, rehearsal dinner at Joyful House

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#14

Did you go to Santorini, Greece, for your wedding photos? Lots of Chinese do, I was told, when we were there.

#15

Ocean Star Seafood will be relocating to the location previously occupied by the closed East Gourmet Seafood which was run by a group that operated Ocean Star Seafood two or so iterations ago.

The plaza that housed Empress Harbor changed ownership. The new owner appears to have also took over the Empress Harbor’s business name and is remodeling Empress Harbor and the previously Korean food place across the way. What style of food will the next iteration of Empress Harbor be offering is unclear.

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#16

Thanks for the update. Doesn’t help the people who had booked banquets and were left in the lurch with the closures.

#17

Hot pot? :wink:

Thanks for the update.

#18

Mainland Chinese 老大 and their 哥們

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#19

But don’t the mainland bosses like Cantonese feasts?

#20

Not if they’re made from a Taiwanese (or HK) owned/operated restaurant.