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NYC's Disdain for Small Businesses Forced Us to Close, Longtime Eatery Says

By Shaye Weaver | January 5, 2017 8:42am
 China Fun closed its doors this week after two decades in business and blamed government officials and "punishing rules and regulations" for why it closed.
China Fun Closes After 25 Years
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UPPER EAST SIDE — A neighborhood staple that has served quality Chinese food for more than two decades to locals and celebrities like Martin Scorsese, Jerry Seinfeld, and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, has closed its doors, citing a city government that's hostile to mom-and-pop businesses.

China Fun's management posted a letter to customers on its door at 1221 Second Ave. at 64th Street, on New Year's Day, stating that "the state and municipal governments, with their punishing rules and regulations, seem to believe that we should be their cash machine to pay for all that ails us in society, even though we suffer just like everyone else from an economy in flux."

"It has been a great run serving you our delicious soup dumplings, scallion pancakes and General T’sao Chicken, but the climate for small businesses like ours in New York have become such that it’s difficult to justify taking risks and running —nevermind starting  — a legitimate “mom-and-pop” business," they added in the long note.

"Our only wish for 2017 and beyond is for our career lawmakers and politicians, local and national alike, to take a mandatory 'Undercover Boss' challenge and live in the shoes of a small business owner for a week. Maybe then they will better understand the economically stifling environment they have created, and dare we say, change their ways for the betterment of everyone and not just pander to the populace that garner the most votes?"

Inside the barren restaurant on Wednesday, equipment was on sale, including pots and pans, and its seafood tank unplugged and empty.

Co-owner Dorothea Wu declined to comment, saying she didn't have time to talk. Norah Lawlor, a spokeswoman for the restaurant, was also unable to comment on what exactly moved the Wus to close the business.

The closure was sudden, according to customers.

Stay-at-home mom Moriko Siu has been going to China Fun for at least 18 years and said her daughter didn't believe her when she told her it was closed, so she came down to take a picture of the note on the door.

"It's so sad," she told DNAinfo New York outside the restaurant's doors. "This was the only decent Chinese place in this neighborhood. This was our lifeline."

Wu, born in Shanghai, started her own Chinese restaurant back in 1979 and opened China Fun in 1991 with her husband Felix Wu. 

The food, including dishes like dim sum, soup dumplings, Cantonese barbecue, noodles, and wok dishes, was created by executive chef Wing Fong Chen.

China Fun had two locations, including one on the Upper West Side, which closed in 2013 due to a fire, according to the West Side Rag. That location was known for its singing delivery man, Yang Yu Bao.

Nick Benson, a spokesman for the city's Small Business Services department, urged businesses to call 311 for help navigating the city's rules and meeting financial challenges.

“While the circumstances surrounding the closure of this specific restaurant are unclear, the NYC Department of Small Business Services offers free, on-site regulatory consultations to help small businesses proactively comply with applicable laws," Benson said.

The full text of the note to customers is below: