By Chris White
A popular New York City restaurant is closing its doors after 25 years because of what the owners call a stifling regulatory environment that treats the restaurant as a “cash machine.”
China Fun, a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, announced its Jan. 3 closure because of increases in minimum wage and a city atmosphere that treats “mom-and-pop” eateries like cash cows to pay for all the ills of society, Albert Wu, told reporters. Wu is a representative of China Fun.
“The climate for small businesses like ours in New York have become such that it’s difficult to justify taking risks and running — never mind starting — a legitimate mom-and-pop business,” read a letter posted by the owners in the Chinese restaurant’s front door.
Wu, whose parents Dorothea and Felix have owned the eatery since its inception two decades ago, said the city’s endless amount of paperwork have taken their toll over the years and finally led to the restaurant’s closure.
“When we started out in 1991, the lunch special was $4 a plate,” Wu said. “Now it’s $10, $12. The cost of doing business is just too onerous.”
He cited one New York City regulation requiring China Fun to provide an on-site break room for workers despite its limited space as just one of the rules that helped kill the restaurant. The state and city government “seems to believe that we should be their cash machine to pay for all that ails us in society,” Wu added.
Adele Malpass, who chairs the Manhattan Republican Party, said Wu’s complaints are common among the city’s small business owners.
“For smaller businesses like China Fun, each little thing that occurs makes it harder,” Malpass said. “Each regulation, each tax — you put it all together and it’s just a hostile business environment.”
China Fun’s closure comes as New York-based businesses wrestle with minimum wage laws that are quickly becoming the highest in the country.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers reached a deal last year to increase the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of five years. The current minim wage in the state is $9 an hour.
Republicans have been most concerned over the economic stress such a high minimum wage could have in the state on small businesses that cannot afford it. They reached a compromise with supporters of the increase that includes a longer phase-in period with more rural areas having more time to adjust.