SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco Chinatown small businesses have been hit extremely hard during this pandemic and they’re asking the mayor for help.
A week before Christmas, the storefronts are nearly empty and businesses are struggling. They’re asking for a relief package they feel is desperately needed.
David Ho is pretty much a one-man band these days at Sam Wo restaurant which has been serving up steamy, stir-fried dishes since 1908.
“It used to be busy but now it’s very quiet,” Ho said.
“Mr. Ho is the main cook the whole day and when we have deliveries he’ll take the 50-pound bag of rice — he’s doing it all on his own,” said Stephen Lee.
Earlier this year, the owners quickly used up its Paycheck Protection Program loan and they say getting extra help from the city has been difficult.
“Even when we apply for them we get rejected. We applied for grants — at least three of them — and we never got approved,” Lee said.
On the street there’s hardly any foot traffic and stores are mostly empty.
This week, nine Chinatown associations sent a letter asking Mayor London Breed for a COVID relief package similar to the $28 million commitment to the Latino community announced by Breed in September.
“We know the city has a shortfall in its budget but how are they able to carve out that much money for the Latin community and not us,” said Betty Louie of the Chinatown Merchants Association.
Chinatown businesses are asking for $5.3 million in grants to keep employees on their payrolls and $2 million to boost tourism once stay-at-home orders end.
“It doesn’t seem like anyone reaches out to our community. We’ve got a lot of good community leaders who are going to reach out to the mayor and not let her forget we’re here, we haven’t gone anywhere and we’re not going anywhere,” Louie said.
The associations say they’re still waiting for a detailed response.
The mayor’s spokesperson issued a statement saying they will be scheduling a meeting.