May 11, 2021 7 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
Over the past year, Asian-American entrepreneurs have faced incredible challenges. The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans has skyrocketed, compounded by the pandemic and the racist rhetoric associated with the virus. From an economic perspective, consumer activity in Chinatowns in the US declined 75% * in April 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. And while these communities are steadily recovering today, there is still so much to be done. Matthew Wong, owner of Tea and Milk in New York City, noted that “in the post-pandemic era, many people viewed Asian Americans as the virus itself”.
This hatred is hurtful, unfounded, and, to say the least, unacceptable, but it is what many in the API community are witnessing and experiencing every day. Matthew continued, “As an Asian-American business owner, it’s difficult because we don’t know what’s going to happen to our employees. We don’t know what’s going to happen to our business. What if someone walks in and devastates or injures our employees? “
As we share the stories of these entrepreneurs during API Heritage Month, we celebrate their strength and resilience as they face unimaginable circumstances along with the challenges of just being a small business owner in general. Consumers are also increasingly looking to support Asian owned businesses. According to our most recent report on the economic impact on various companies, the rate of Yelp searches for Asian-owned companies in the US increased 3,404% in February 2021 compared to the same period last year.
The tenacity of these business owners is inspiring and I am honored to help share their stories.
Find cultural inspiration
Lucas Sin, head chef and partner at Nice Day Chinese in NYC, shares his thoughts on the importance of cultural integrity and the impact it has on the way he creates his menu and runs the restaurant.
“Chinese-American food and the business model it supports grew out of a particular diaspora, so it’s important to draw on the generations and people who came before us. A good friend of mine grew up in Chinese-American restaurants His father is 90 years old and can barely hear anything. And when we were developing our General Tso’s recipe, I was confused about what General Tso actually was because every time I ate it it was a little different we called him when we developed ours and the funny story is that in most Chinese-American restaurants, sesame chicken is General Tso’s chicken, but it has sesame in it. It’s the exact same sauce. “
“These are the things you would never learn or know if you didn’t ask the OGs, the legends who have done this all their lives and moved to this country to do it. Respecting tradition means, involve the people who came before you. In my case, as a chef who creates dishes, I can learn dishes from it, but also run the restaurant. He asks, “How do you keep food crispy?” Culture that precedes us. That is why it is important to fall back on it and not lose sight of it. “
Entrepreneurial Experience and the “American Dream”
Tim Ho, co-founder of the career counseling business Your Next Jump, takes a look at the term that coined the “American Dream” and the journey to this country.
“One of our very first customers was a man named Sam. He was an immigrant who came here when he was very young from Africa and worked as a mechanic on city vehicles (garbage trucks etc) for the city. He would go to school to to get his IT degree. He was making probably $ 30, 40, 50,000 a year. This is a story that is not just for immigrants, but also for Americans. This is the American dream. This is the land of opportunity. This is why it came my Chinese-born parents moved to this country. They wanted the best for my sister and me. “
“We were both fortunate enough to be born in the US, given the opportunities that most of the world don’t have. I think most Americans don’t know how amazingly blessed we are to be in this country, despite all the division that we have. “
“For Sam, he did the hard work. He went to school at night. He got his IT degree. He got his certifications. And he worked all of that hard. We worked with him to make his résumé , and he ended up getting a job doing six-digit numbers and that was the American dream. “
“And it wasn’t just for him – it was for his wife and children, and his children are now born in this amazing country. This is the beginning. This is what immigrants want when they come here. Growing up, my mother told me : “This is America. You can be any job you want. “America enables and gives people the opportunity to go the path they want.”
“I think the founders of America created this country to do that. And so, among all of our problems, all of our divisions, and all of the things that stink and stink about this country, there are just so many amazing things. Sometimes me think immigrants are the ones who can see this most clearly – more than Americans who have been here for a long time – because people are still lining up to get on this great experiment in American democracy. “
This month we’re introducing three Asian-owned companies on Behind the Review, starting with Lucas and Nice Day Chinese:
“Chinese-American restaurants face unique obstacles, and these obstacles are often the result of systemic racism. Many of these obstacles are a long time coming. They didn’t occur in 2020 because someone said the kung flu virus over the course of the year Years a disadvantage was built. “
“And it’s a tangled subject, but I would hope that most of us Asian restaurateurs – and we’ve certainly seen that in New York – Asian restaurateurs are using both our platform and our business to do something about it in the long term . “
If you’re looking for a way to show your support to the community, Yelp recently announced a new Asian-owned business attribute. Business owners can add the attribute to be displayed on their Yelp page. This free, searchable attribute helps consumers find and support Asian owned businesses in their communities.
All data is as of March 11, 2021. Yelp Chinatown data is based on US Chinatowns with sufficient data in the cities of Seattle, WA; Boston, MA; Chicago, Illinois; Honolulu, HI; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Manhattan, NY; Paradise, NV; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spring Valley, WA; Honolulu, HI; Washington, DC; and Oakland, CA.