Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant will close its doors from Tuesday “until further notice” as the coronavirus outbreak continues to slam a food and beverage industry that has been reeling since social unrest since last year.
“As of March 3 and until further notice, Jumbo Kingdom will suspend its day-to-day operation,” said Hong Kong-listed owner and conglomerate Melco International Development, in a statement on Monday.
“This decision has been taken in light of the severe impact Covid-19 has had on the restaurants’ business. We will continue to monitor the commercial outlook for Jumbo and will provide any relevant updates in due course.”
Jumbo Kingdom was opened in 1976 by Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, and is run under Melco’s subsidiary Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises. Businesses include the Jumbo Floating Restaurant and Tai-Pak Floating Restaurant, which Aberdeen Restaurant bought in 1987, both in Aberdeen Harbour on the south side of Hong Kong Island.
The impending closure comes as Hong Kong continues to count the cost of the coronavirus outbreak that prompted the government to unveil a record HK$139 billion budget deficit for the coming year to help stabilise the economy.
The disease has compounded the pain in the tourism, retail and hospitality industries that had already been suffering from months of anti-government protests since last year.
About half of Jumbo’s staff, or around 60 to 70 people, were dismissed in January while its business hours had altered, according to some local media reports.
In its heyday as a tourist landmark—built in the style of a Ming dynasty palace—Jumbo has served millions, including royalty and film stars from Queen Elizabeth, to Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Cruise. It has even featured in films like James Bond’s The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011).
Despite 44 years of history and iconic status, Jumbo had already realized its need for a business revamp.
Melco announced in October 2017 plans for “a total revitalization” of Jumbo, chair Lawrence Ho Yau-lung said at the time. In March that year, it sold a 509-space car park that was used for guests, for more than HK$500 million to pay for the facelift, triggering speculation it might be planning to shut down the restaurants.
An earlier renovation in 2003, which cost HK$35 million, helped transform the restaurants into a complex with shops, bars, specialty food stalls and a fishing village museum. (SCMP)