According to The New York Times, citing data from Yelp, the share of Chinese restaurants has dramatically fallen across major US metropolitan areas in the last five years.
Yelp data shows the share of Chinese restaurants in the top 20 metros has been in free fall since about 2014.
Five years ago, 7.3% of all restaurants in the top 20 metros were Chinese, compared with 6.5% today. The declining trend has resulted in over 1,200 fewer Chinese restaurants while these metros added over 15,000 more restaurants.
The Times notes that the oldest Chinatown in the US is located in San Francisco, and even there, the share of Chinese restaurants shrank to 8.8% from 10% in 2014.
Mass closings of Chinese restaurants show no signs of abating, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants continue to hold a steady market share or increase nationwide.
One big reason for the rash of closings “seems to be the economic mobility of the second generation,” said The Times.
“It’s a success that these restaurants are closing,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, a former New York Times journalist. “These people came to cook so their children wouldn’t have to, and now their children don’t have to.”
The children of Chinese immigrants have integrated into the economy and are less likely to take over their parent’s restaurant.
While the wave of closings has been underway for at least a half-decade, some restaurants, instead of closing, are selling operations to incoming first-generation immigrants who want the chance to cook Kung pow chicken to an overweight baby boomer.