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In response to anti-Asian violence and in the wake of the eight fatal Atlanta shootings, a number of restaurateurs around the nation were initiating fund-raisers for Asian American groups.

Asian-American restaurateurs raise money to combat violence

Restaurateurs uneasy as they see more threats and vandalism incidents

In response to anti-Asian violence and in the wake of the eight fatal Atlanta shootings, a number of restaurateurs around the nation were initiating fund-raisers for Asian American groups.

Chao Baan in St. Louis, Mo. was donating 10% of dine-in and carryout sales from Thursday dinner service to the Stop AAPI Hate coalition.

Kevin Tien, chef of Moon Rabbit restaurant in Washington, D.C., has gathered more than 45 top D.C. area chefs to do Sunday benefit dinners to raise money for Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.

Earlier in the year, several New York City restaurateurs joined forces for an initiative, called #EnoughIsEnough, to raise money to donate food to underserved NYC shelters as well as other organizations.

Participating restaurants included Win Son, Mala Project, Junzi Kitchen, 886, Fishcheeks and  Madame Vo and others, which prepared meals for shelters with money raised through a Givebutter fundraising page.

A number of Asian-American restaurateurs were experiencing increased threats and vandalism over the past several weeks, and their fears  increased with the eight fatal shootings March 16 at massage businesses in the Atlanta area.

At Noodle Tree in San Antonio, Texas, owner Mike Nguyen, who is recovering from lymphoma treatments, closed his dining room Thursday after a “serious active threat” against himself and his restaurant. He had gone on CNN last week to express his opposition to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifting the statewide mask mandate, and that ignited a wide variety of threats.

Then the Noodle Tree was hit with racially derogatory graffiti, and patrons helped Nguyen remove it.


A post shared by Noodle Tree (@noodletreetx)

"When you see pictures is one thing, but when I actually walked to the restaurant, physically saw with my own eyes, I was enraged," Nguyen told the San Antonio Express News. "I was upset."

And the threats continued into last week.

“We will not be allowing anyone to dine in today,” the restaurant posted on Instagram Thursday, “until we can have [a] police detail outside our restaurant.” Noodle Tree is open Thursdays to Sundays.

Nguyen’s team added: “Sorry y’all. Better safe than sorry.”

The Asian American Pacific Islander community has seen threats increase and become more overt since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared last March.

A report by the group Stop AAPI Hate found that 3,795 incidents against Asian Americans between March 19 and Feb. 28.

Stop AAPI Hate​, which was founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department, said, “The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian-Americans are to discrimination, and the types of discrimination they face.​”

The report last month found that California led among incidents reported, with 1,691 in the nearly year-long period. That made up 44.6% of reported incidents, followed by New York with 517, Washington State with 158 and Texas with 103.

About 11.1% of cases were physical assault, the Stop AAPI Hate group said.

Jason Wang, CEO of New York’s Xi’an Famous Foods Asian American restaurant chain, told the Gothamist that two of his employees were recent victims of anti-Asian attacks.

Xi’an, which was named as a Nation’s Restaurant News Breakout Brand in 2016, has eight restaurants in the New York City area.

Wang said the attacks on his staff members came during the daytime. A male employee, who was taking the subway to work, was accosted when a stranger followed him off the train “and basically punched him in the face.”

Wang said his company was at 14 locations before the pandemic, but now eight are open.  Most of the closures were in midtown Manhattan. Overall, he told the Gothamist, sales are about 30% of what they were pre-pandemic.

“When these things happen,” said Wang, “it makes our employees feel uneasy to go to work. Uneasy to take the train, uneasy to walk outside. And that’s really a problem because people aren’t able to live the way they usually live.”

Xi’an is also closing its remaining restaurants earlier than before the attacks.

"Before the pandemic, we used to close at maybe 9:30 or 10:30. But now all of our locations close at 8:30," Wang told CBS News. "Our employee safety is always No. 1 on our list, because we have to make our employees feel safe before we're able to do business."

Other Asian-American restaurants have experienced vandalism and thefts.

The Urban Hot Pot in Maryland was among four restaurants burglarized and vandalized in mid-February.

Cash and safes were stolen from Urban Hot Pot, Kung Fu Tea and Bonchon in the Columbia Mall as well as East Moon Asian Bistro in Ellicott City, Md.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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