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CHINATOWN — What was supposed to be a meal shared between two people in Chinatown turned out to be a community effort to support neighborhood businesses that have been hit hard by coronavirus fears.
More than 50 people flocked to Chinatown on Monday night for a restaurant and business crawl to support the neighborhood following a 50 percent drop in sales linked to coronavirus fears, according to business owners.
Saint’s Alp Teahouse is feeling the crunch.
Sales have “dropped almost 50 percent,” said owner Kelly Ho, who participated in the event, dubbed Chinatown Crawl. “I never see [that decrease in sales since] I went into business over 13 years.”
Chinatown Crawl started on Facebook after friends Jose Corcolas and Carlos Matias read an article about loss of sales in Chinatown amid fears of the virus. They decided to support businesses by eating out in Chinatown, then opened their plans to Facebook, Corcolas said.
“Within the hour, we had like a hundred hits,” Corcolas said. “It was all very surreal and very organic too, I guess.”
Supporters broke off into small groups to patronize as many businesses as possible in the area. Some ate at restaurants while others shopped at bakeries, tea shops and a candy store.
“We’re just here to support, you know? We’re really just trying to center restaurants and solidarity,” Corcolas said.
Bergen Anderson founded the Swedish-design-inspired clothing company in 2011, doing all the work at home. She said it feels good to open her shop in what once was the center of Swedish life in Chicago.