Sydney restaurants shut doors to shelter from coronavirus storm

Stir-fried pippies with XO sauce at XOPP.
Stir-fried pippies with XO sauce at XOPP. Photo: Edwina Pickles

At least seven Sydney Chinese restaurants have closed temporarily and many of the city's Chinese precincts are on their knees in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

"Dinner trade is down 50 per cent [across the city] but it's yum cha that's had the most impact because of people staying away from crowds. It's off more than 70 per cent in some places," says Ricky Char of the Australian Chinese Restauranteur [sic] Association.

"At least seven of our members, from all over Sydney, have shut temporarily until it passes," says Char, who has experienced the downturn first-hand as operator of a number of venues, including District 8 in Canley Vale.

Restaurateur Billy Wong says both his family's restaurants, Golden Century and XOPP, have been hit.

And while he hasn't suffered the massive downturn some other restaurants are reporting, "it isn't a figure that surprises me. That'd be a number a lot of people are experiencing."

With the streets of perennially buzzing eating precincts such as Eastwood quiet, Sydney chefs including Dan Hong have been vocal in encouraging Sydneysiders to get out and support Chinese restaurants.

Wong, who maintains the effect of the current outbreak is much worse than experienced during SARS, says the industry has placed extreme extra attention on hygiene.

"We're all washing our hands 10 times a day," he says.

Char adds: "The government has done a good job stopping its spread here. Our restaurants are really [going above and beyond] in creating an extra-sanitised environment. What has happened to trade is a domino effect."