Chinese Restaurants Are Closing. That’s a Good Thing, the Owners Say.

The share of Chinese restaurants has fallen in metro areas across the country in the last five years. Now, this is not because they are unhappy with the business or customers are complaining about the quality of the food. Instead, many owners are facing a succession challenge: their children don't want to take over the businesses from their parents. The kicker: owners are glad their children won’t be taking over.

Across the country, owners of Chinese-American restaurants like Eng’s are ready to retire but have no one to pass the business to. Their children, educated and raised in America, are pursuing professional careers that do not demand the same grueling labor as food service. Instead, a big reason seems to be the economic mobility of the second generation.
“It’s a success that these restaurants are closing,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, a former New York Times journalist who wrote of the rise of Chinese restaurants in her book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” and produced a documentary....“These people came to cook so their children wouldn’t have to, and now their children don’t have to.” “They were not precious,” Ms. Lee said. “These people did not come to be chefs; they came to be immigrants, and cooking was the way they made a living.”
Other immigrant groups follow a similar pattern. With social mobility and inclusion in more mainstream parts of the economy, the children of immigrants are less likely than their parents to own their own businesses.

As Netflix star Hasan Minhaj says in the below video, "That's the big difference between our generation and our parents' generation. They're always trying to survive...when dad came in '82 he survived for us but I'm trying to live."


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?