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Chinese New Year in the Desert focused on highlighting AAPI restaurants

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Posted at 6:51 PM, Feb 08, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — What’s usually a lively, festive and bright celebration will be more muted this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Chinese New Year in the Desert” (CNY) is going virtual this year with a focus on promoting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) owned restaurants here in the Las Vegas area.

The Lunar New Year celebration usually means big business for places like Chubby Cattle as family mealtime is so important on this holiday.

RELATED STORY: Cafe Sanuki in Chinatown reopens once again after voluntarily closing

“A lot of people sit around a table and they share one pot and they share everything in one pot.”

For Joyce Li, vice president of Chubby Cattle International, the pandemic brought sudden changes that forced the restaurant to adapt to to-go orders and social distancing. It created a tough situation.

“Other times [are] still very slow, especially weekday, because I understand a lot of people are still very scared about COVID-19,” she said.

With large gatherings off the table this year, CNY in the Desert is going virtual and focusing on a call-to-action, supporting AAPI restaurants to help them persevere in The Year of the Ox.

“So, I think it’s fitting in The Year of the Ox, it’s a strong and sturdy animal. It puts its head down and it just goes to work,” Derek Uehara, CNY in the Dessert host, said.

Chinatowns are uniquely affected by the pandemic, as dining is the centerpiece of the local economies, depending on tourism and locals. Mass restaurant restrictions and closures have had a massive impact. Uehara says he encourages the entire community to come out.

“Why not take a look at new and exciting restaurants that maybe you would’ve never heard of before. Go out, celebrate and support the workers and the hard-working owners of these restaurants,” he said.

The Asian Chamber of Commerce says Las Vegas’s Chinatown has weathered the struggles of the pandemic better, compared to other Chinatowns in the country.

Indoor dining still being allowed plays a big part. Li remains optimistic for Chubby Cattle.

RELATED STORY: Chinatown restaurants in Las Vegas seeing foot traffic normalize amid pandemic

“Of course, sales were killed a lot, but still we have a lot of returning customers. They love our brand and they love our food,” she said.

This event will begin Tuesday and we have the full details for CNY in the Desert here.