Could you tell us a little bit about how Welcome to Chinatown got started and your role with the non-profit?
Yeah! Welcome to Chinatown (WTC) was started when friends and Chinatown residents, Jennifer Tam and Victoria Lee, saw a huge decline in foot traffic in the neighborhood back in February 2020. They came together to figure out a way to help drive some revenue back to the small businesses. Now it has evolved into a small business relief fund program that includes The Longevity Fund, The Sik Faan Fund, and Made in Chinatown.
As for my role within WTC, I am Head of Creative and my primary focus is creating a visual narrative that helps reclaim our Asian American culture through design and art. My every day consists of working with small businesses to help design merchandise, develop business branding, foster a team of volunteer designers, and work directly with other branches of our non-profit to ensure our messaging and visuals are on point!
How do you all pick the restaurants or businesses you support?
For our Longevity Fund, all businesses are rated on a scale (based on their application) and reviewed with our board of community partners to ensure a non-biased and diverse group of businesses are being helped. As for our design services, it's really when businesses speak to us about their concerns and where they want to improve – we then suggest utilizing our design services when they are ready. We want to make sure everything we do is a collaboration and we always listen before we act.
How does Welcome to Chinatown inspire other communities to “love our people as much as they love our food?”
Our mission is all about telling our stories and humanizing the Chinatown experience. We hope that our ways of sharing the stories of unsung heroes of Chinatown will inspire people to uplift those same stories in their own communities.
What are your top three go-to quick eats in Chinatown?
Wu’s Wonton King for their Wonton noodles, Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle for their killer Rice Noodle Combo and Sponge Cake, and Double Crispy Bakery for their Portuguese style egg tart, and triangle sponge cake!
What is a classic “Only in Chinatown” story you have?
Like so many places in NYC, this neighborhood is full of wild stories. A classic “Only in Chinatown” experience that comes to mind is whenever I venture into Deluxe Supermarket. I am immediately transported into a chaotic market filled with people shouting in three or four different languages in hopes of grabbing the attention of the busy butcher, vegetable attendant, or seafood monger. All the while, I realize I am inside a brightly neon-lit, galley-style store, blasting NPR classical tunes non-stop. By the time I make it out on the other side (where the cashier is), I have walked through every department they have (by design) and bumped into a few characters along the way. But most importantly, I always manage to get all my groceries!
Anything you want to plug? The floor is yours!
Please consider donating to Welcome to Chinatown's relief fund programs:
You can also support our merchandise sales at madeinchinatownny.com – sales profits go back to the business that piece represents and Welcome to Chinatown. Also, make sure to check out our V1 of our Chinatown Directory.