Brookline’s Asian American Family Network has a message for you: Don’t let fear of coronavirus keep you away from your favorite Asian restaurants.
The spread of coronavirus (now called COVID-19) has had a nasty side effect on Brookline’s Asian restaurant community, with fear of catching the virus — first identified in China — keeping some customers away, according to the network.
Last weekend, the organization launched a campaign to make up for that drop in business by encouraging community members to visit their favorite Asian restaurants.
The network's efforts take inspiration from similar pushes in Boston and Quincy, where hundreds of diners flocked to Chinatown and Asian restaurants to support the community. In Brookline, several local restaurants have long supported the network's annual Lunar New Year event. Now the organization wants to return the favor.
“A bunch of us felt like we couldn’t pick one restaurant to support, because so many of them have been so generous to us,” network Chair Chi Chi Wu explained. Instead, they decided to launch a townwide weekend of support.
“This is to show that it is safe and appropriate (to eat at Asian restaurants), and people should not be missing out on their favorite Asian restaurants due to unfounded fears,” Wu said.
There’s no evidence to suggest Asian restaurants might put diners at greater risk of catching coronavirus than any other kind of restaurant.
"There's no sustained transmission in Massachusetts, and there's no reason to be afraid of any restaurant or any person, and we really — again — should be supporting one another," Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Paul Biddinger told WCVB in February.
So why are some diners avoiding Asian restaurants? Wu cited NPR Podcast “Code Switch,” which recently featured author and xenophobia historian Erika Lee.
“The professor that they interviewed, Erika Lee, said that now that the coronavirus is spreading in Italy, are people going to avoid Italian restaurants? And she said probably not, because unfortunately this is in the history of the United States,” Wu said. “The minority communities suffer the brunt of things like this.”
The Brookline Asian American Family Network's weekend of support is important not only for bolstering local restaurants but also for combating stigmatization, she said.
“There’s been a lot of xenophobia and racism against Asians all over the country and all over the world, due to unfounded fears and biases from the coronavirus,” Wu said. “In other parts of the country, there have been actual hate crime incidents.”
She added, “We want to make a stand here and say that it’s wrong.”
Looking for a local Asian restaurant to support? The network provided this list of suggestions:
Golden Temple, 1651 Beacon St.
Super Fusion, 690A Washington St.
U Sushi, 1393 Beacon St.
Xiang Yu China Bistro, 1223 Beacon St.
Mei Mei, 506 Park Drive, Boston
Genki Ya, 398 Harvard St.
Dok Bua, 411 Harvard St.
Giggling Rice, 1009 Beacon St.
Sichuan Gourmet, 1004-1006 Beacon St.
Japonaise Bakery and Cafe, 1020 Beacon St.
Pho Lemongrass, 239 Harvard St.