How Anti-Asian Violence Has Become A Major Problem For Restaurants

In the wake of the devastating Atlanta area spa shootings that resulted in the deaths of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, a reckoning of the increased violence toward Asian-Americans, especially since the beginning of the pandemic, has begun to occur.

This violence has extended to restaurants owned by Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans (via Eater). Restaurateur David Ching told Eater that he has taken to closing his recently-opened Guangzhou-style Chinese barbecue, Hay Hay Roasted in New York's Chinatown, at 7 p.m., to ensure that his staff gets home safely. He also advises his employees not to walk alone. "They are scared, of course, because of the rise in violence," Ching said. "They are using the subway and they hear of people being pushed onto the tracks. They worry they will be the victims of a hate crime."

Ching is certainly not alone in cutting his restaurant's hours. "We've already been closing earlier than pre-pandemic times because it is dangerous to walk on the emptier sidewalks," Sakura Yagi, chief operating officer of T.I.C. Restaurant Group told Eater. "That's been the case since the start of the pandemic. The thing that many people don't get is that from the start of the pandemic, Asian businesses have been impacted differently than other businesses because of the way the virus has been categorized as an Asian disease."

That impact was felt since the very beginning of the pandemic, when, due to fear and misconception, many Asian restaurants saw a marked drop in business (via Grub Street). 

There has been a 150 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans across the country

Vox covered the shift from avoidance to violence in October, noting how calling the coronavirus pandemic the "China virus" had the predictable effect of instilling further hostility toward those in the AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) community. Even before the Atlanta shootings, a study found that there had been a 150 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans across the country (via CBS). 

In the restaurant industry, in particular, these struggles have been compounded by a surge in unemployment from 3 percent to 15 percent, due, as Vox suggests, to the general effects of the pandemic, a greater proportion of Asian-Americans working in the service industry, and racism. 

Faced with this, nearly a dozen Asian-American-owned businesses in New York have joined to create the Enough is Enough organization, to not only confront the rise of hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans but to help bring food to the underserved, especially to elderly Asian-Americans who are too afraid to leave their homes (via Time Out). 

The #EnoughIsEnough fundraising campaign, which launched on February 12, managed to more than double its original goal of $10,000 in 12 hours and proceeded to rake in $75,000 to help feed the community. "The idea was just to create a voice that unifies some of the people in the restaurant industry and showing people that no matter how small your voice is, if you are willing to speak out, people are listening and I think we've done that," Eric Sze, the restaurateur behind the campaign, told CNBC.