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

Lest Comrade Xi’s A.I. facial recognition software reviews any footage of them frequenting such a joint…

I would think the costs of running a massive restaurant are starting to catch up. Labor is both higher but also much more difficult to find. The rents can’t be cheap anymore as their leases may be coming to an end. Food price expectations are still in the early 2000’s but food costs have keep going up.

Also from my perspective as a industry insider, most Chinese restaurants from that era are run extremely inefficiently. The kitchens are way overbuilt which adds to their minimum square footage and they rely on employees agreeing to work on “salary” but it usually means they do 6 days a week and usually double shifts every day except maybe one half day a week. Nobody wants to work like that anymore, especially younger cooks.

There’s also alot more competition now for banquet spaces, before it was just a handful of restaurants, places like the restaurant inside the Lincoln Plaza Hotel were able to stay open just from their banquet business. But now there’s plenty of places in town to do one and it doesn’t have to be Cantonese anymore as we have Shanghainese or Sichuan places that could probably fit the bill

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Lincoln Seafood inside the hotel abruptly closed several months ago, posting a sign that they were doing renovations. Haven’t been back since then to see if they reopened or have completely shuttered.

BTW, in case I/we don’t say it enough, I totally love hearing your perspective as an insider.

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From purely a business perspective it seems odd that a landlord would be able to buy the name of a well known restaurant that is going to relocate nearby unless the restaurant really wants/needs to reincarnate itself.

The landlord bought Empress Pavilion’s name, and it’s Ocean Star Seafood that’s relocating.

Also if you’re moving it’s bad to stiff people who booked upcoming banquets at your old location.

unless it’s a politician’s fundraiser. don’t care which party.

Oh. :roll_eyes: … to quota Emily Litella… never mind!

LA Times article today speaking about vanishing Chinese restaurants in SGV with a shout out to FTC and David Chan.

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with the exception of embassy kitchen and IIRC embassy kitchen’s closing reflected retirement of the head cook, all the other places that have shuttered recently listed in the article also had dim sum service and these places would be paying two sets of kitchen staff - the dim sum staff & the dinner staff. i mention this because i’ve noticed that lower end dim sum prices have crept up a bit - even places like yum cha cafe. perhaps dim sum supply & demand is as much a factor as the diminished banquet demand?

Heard that the owner of Yum Cha Cafe managed to keep prices super low at the beginning because he was paying some of his staff pay that was below the state’s minimum hourly wage, and staff was expected to work overtime when needed but not being paid the overtime. Heard that led to claims filed with the Dept of Labor, which, in turn, investigated the claims. Eventually, the owner getting cited and has to pay his staff properly. Can anyone verify this?

With the state’s minimum wage creeping up by $0.50 per hour every January and June, until we reach $15.00 per hour in 2023, plus rising cost of food/ingredients, and rents continuing to rise as well, these are added costs could have led to the closures of the larger restaurants.

That’s applicable to 90% of the Chinese eateries/establishments including a retail place like Wing Hop Fung (about $1,500 per month working 9 - 10 hours a day many years ago). They get paid a fixed daily or monthly salary that are way below the minimum wage.

With a sewing operation, sweatshop workers make as little as $20 a day working 10 hours+ daily 7 days a week while working on garments that gets sold for hundreds of dollars at Nordstrom or Bebe. These poor workers get paid at a rate of a mere few cents per piece. It’s disgusting.

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but, hey, it’s outrageous if “ethnic” food should be expensive!

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always worth a read/reread, Diep Tran’s piece on the costs of cheap eats/cheap labor.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/12/512905725/cheap-eats-cheap-labor-the-hidden-human-costs-of-those-lists

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Both of my grandmas worked in sweatshops when I was really little. I remember visiting them at work. 50 machines lined up in an industrial complex with zero air conditioning. It must have been sweltering during the summer and freezing during the winters.

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I’m pretty sure they were ov[quote=“moonboy403, post:33, topic:9615”]
retail place like Wing Hop Fung (about $1,500 per month working 9 - 10 hours a day many years ago). They get paid a fixed daily or monthly salary that are way below the minimum wage.

With a sewing operation, sweatshop workers make as little as $20 a day working 10 hours+ daily 7 days a week while working on garments that gets sold for hundreds of dollars at Nordstrom or Bebe. These poor workers get paid at a rate of a mere few cents per piece. It’s disgusting.
[/quote]

Technically compensation by piece rate is illegal. But in reality that shit is still going on but just covered by better these days.

Also Asians getting paid a fix rate, most of them know they aren’t getting overtime but they also understand the employer doesn’t want to pay overtime. So its either they get two jobs or they can work on the same job and work 10-12 hours a day and accept a lower hourly rate by taking a fixed salary but the final amount of their paycheck is what they desire. Most Asians from the older generations accepted that idea. For them the math might make sense but thats why for years SGV prices were so low and subsidized by that kind of employee compensation.

Now with many business owners wanting to be more transparent and legitimate with the government some places aren’t willing to do that anymore, not to say its still not happening but I do think we will hit a reckoning where the low :“ethnic” prices won’t be subsidized by the employees anymore because they won’t be willing to work like the older generation.

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Thanks JLee, I know what my next business idea is - Uber for Sweatshops. You can circumvent minimum wage laws by making sure everyone is a 1099 and pay them by-piece.

(waiting for someone to tell me this already exists)

No problem, just give me some shares before you go public

Damn right.

Most of these workers, many of whom are approaching retirement age, simply had no choice but to work for slave wages since they don’t speak much English and most of these Chinese businesses do the same shit.