Pictured above: Empty chairs and empty tables in Chicago's Richland Chinatown Food Court.
When the coronavirus news first broke in the US in January of 2020, that was the first blow that quickly deflated the excitement surrounding Chi Yatai's soft opening in 12/23/19. In the weeks following, fewer customers were in Chinatown. People have speculated this was due to racist or xenophobic reasons. What I do know is that our sales have plummeted 30-40% in January, February, and March.
There were two more blows when dine-in operations for all Illinois restaurants were ordered to shut down on 3/17/2020 (the majority of restaurant income comes from dine-in orders, at least for us) and then once again when the Shelter-In-Place order here in Illinois was extended from April 7th to April 30th. Even with delivery and take-out orders, many restaurants have decided to close because of the large decrease in orders overall.
You know those stories of CEOs giving up their own salaries in order to take care of their employees? Out of great love and compassion for my employees and to do my part, I have sacrificed and completely stopped taking my own salary since January 19th of this year, and I plan to continue to work for free for as long as the coronavirus negatively impacts the restaurant. In addition to not paying myself a salary or tips these last couple of months, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars from my own personal savings to help pay my employees' wages and help pay our restaurant's many monthly expenses. Needless to say, the coronavirus has created an overwhelmingly great financial burden and need at this critical time. To do our part to help flatten the curve, and to protect our employees, our customers, and their loved ones, Chi Yatai has decided to close the restaurant indefinitely, which means we will have absolutely no income stream for a 7-week period (almost two months).
Even so, my biggest heart and need now is to help provide for my employees during our restaurant's closure. One of them is an only child providing for his sick mother. All the rest of my employees are living from paycheck to paycheck. All are struggling financially. Additionally, I have already had to let go one employee because we could not afford to keep her, and I may need to let all my employees go soon. To be brutally honest, we will run out of money within a week in our bank account, which is why we are humbly asking for your generosity in helping provide for the many Chi Yatai employees in need while the restaurant is closed. Most importantly, none of the Chi Yatai employees are eligible for unemployment because one of the requirements for unemployment is 12 months of W-2 wages; however, because Chi Yatai opened this past 12/23/2019, we are too new for my employees to be eligible for unemployment coverage, unfortunately.
Fundraiser Update: I was able to distribute $800 back on 4/3/2020 (our last payday) based on what was raised prior to 4/3/2020 (after credit card processing and GoFundMe fees). I would love to give and help my (6) employees even moreso as more funds are raised. Additionally, Chi Yatai will need help paying our many other expenses as well. We have applied for the PPP loan, but I don't know if we will be approved -OR- if the funds will be received in time. Your generous donations will help provide a buffer in the event we are not eligible for the PPP and also to help cover the gaps for our expenses that the PPP won't be able to cover. Furthermore, Chi Yatai will NOT be receiving a grant (notified 4/8 at 6:25 PM) from the State of Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Program.
In closing, whether you give $1, $15,000, or an amount in between, on behalf of my employees, their families, and the Chi Yatai group, we are SO very thankful, humbled, and grateful for your help during this difficult time. Please know that any dollar amount would be so very helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you! We're all in this together, and I know we'll get through this together! #SmallBizRelief #SmallBusinessRelief
Chi Yatai Ownership
- Tsang’s Family Tsang
- Paul Kim
- InYoung Kim
- Irene Wong
- Julie Wong