As we say goodbye to 2015, we’ve also had to say farewell to a few longstanding Hong Kong restaurant gems.
Roast goose specialist Yung Kee may be closing up shop, while organic movement pioneer Life Cafe shuttered its doors earlier this month and Goldfinch — which served as the iconic backdrop for “In the Mood for Love” — closed down in September, most likely for good.
It got me thinking about how crazy the F&B scene is in Hong Kong, where even the most revered and successful establishments aren’t exempt from unaffordable rents, irreconcilable family and shareholder disputes, whimsical government rules and other ominous forces that inevitably lead to their demise.
And these are the old and proven restaurants — it’s an even more volatile environment for new venues. Walk down any major Hong Kong street, and then walk down it again a few weeks later, and you’re guaranteed to see shop shuffles and vacated premises for the same reasons and more.
For instance, let’s just say that you’ve managed to cozy up to your landlord, you’ve jumped through all the bureaucratic hurdles, and you get along splendidly with your business partners, family or otherwise.
You’ve still got a gazillion other restaurants in direct competition with you, an in-demand labor pool that makes hiring staff an olympic sport, an inventory of quick-to-expire foods to manage, and fancy industrial equipment to invest in upfront before you even start making a dollar.
Given the odds, who ARE these insane people who keep opening new restaurants and giving websites likes ours a raison d’etre? Whoever they are, I dedicate this column to them and wish them all a prosperous new year — it might be a rough ride ahead, but those who make it deserve serious bragging rights indeed!
A mouthy soliloquy by Adele Wong. See more Food for Thought columns here.