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Chinese restaurants hit hardest economically by coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 1:57 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 17:49:11-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A new report from Womply, a company tracking credit and debit transactions in the United States, said 59% of Chinese restaurants in the U.S. have not taken a credit or debit payment - indicating they're closed, at least temporarily, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shanghai Taste in Las Vegas closed on March 17 after just a few months in business.

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"It's sad for me to see it this way," said Managing Partner Joe Muscaglione standing among empty tables and chairs. "Usually it's packed, it's vibrant."

Shanghai Taste opened December 18 to big crowds.

Business slowed as coronavirus fears, often emerging as stigma against Chinese restaurants, rose around the world.

Tourism in Las Vegas began to slow.

Sonny Vinuya, the president of the Asian Chamber of Commerce, said many Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas rely on partnerships with tourist charters bringing them trade show visitors from other states and abroad.

"It's kind of a preset menu for those trade show guys," he said.

Vinuya said the drop in tourism and stigma cut business to some restaurants by as much as 60% before Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential businesses to close.

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He said eateries in Las Vegas, particularly Chinatown, have closed at a higher rate than the national average, likely in the range of 65%.

"They have to buy food and they cannot gauge what's going to sell," Vinuya said. "They're going to end up throwing away food because it's going to spoil."

Muscaglione said he's kept a handful of his employees on the payroll for charitable cooking, and plans to open in full when he's allowed by the governor.

He said he doesn't know when that will happen or what a reopen would look like.

"All I can say is that we can't wait to see everyone again. Our smiles will be bigger, under our masks of course," said Muscaglione.

Vinuya said he's talking with federal officials to provide area small businesses more advice on accessing new federal Paycheck Protection Program aid at the Asian Chamber of Commerce website.

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