Tag Archive | "Publisher Ng’s blog"

BLOG: ID businesses dealing with unexpected challenges — Creative solutions for small businesses

BLOG: ID businesses dealing with unexpected challenges — Creative solutions for small businesses

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is expected to impact many small businesses. However, challenges for the International District (ID) businesses go beyond the wage issue.

The ID restaurants once known for great food with low prices are no longer enough to appeal to new customers. On many fronts, the businesses are facing unexpected obstacles, including changing their image, getting a fair share of the market, and making the ID a tourist destination.

The assumption is if the owners are willing to pay higher wages, they would be able to select and retain quality workers. It didn’t turn out that way. The city’s changing laws and requirements to do business are hard for immigrant businesses. Their language and cultural barriers make it difficult to negotiate good rents, rates and programs when they couldn’t communicate in English. The lack of police presence is a constant battle for ID businesses to tackle public safety on their own. The access to capital is another hurdle for immigrants.

Taylor Hoang, owner of Pho Cyclo Café and founder of Ethnic Business Coalition, said at a panel, “We are experiencing gentrification and decline for small businesses. Less people are coming down to eat due to public safety.”

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Kau Kau Restaurant storefront

Ethnic restaurants have been crying out loud that they couldn’t get workers. Richard Chang, owner of Kau Kau Restaurant, said he has a tough time finding employees. He has been placing classified ads in the Seattle Chinese Post for months, but still Kau Kau couldn’t find enough workers after his staff retired or quit. He is reaching out to other ethnic groups who are willing to work for less than $15 dollars an hour.

Chang said he is competing with other, high-paid industries recruiting workers in construction, growing marijuana, and massage. For the past year, the Chinatown ID has opened five more massage parlors between the intersection of Maynard Avenue S. and S. Jackson Street, not to mention the existing massage spots all the way up to 12th Avenue S. Chang also said, “If your income is higher than $17,000, you won’t be qualified for Obamacare. Why bother to work if you lose health care benefits?”

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Eastern Cafe (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The labor shortage issue is a global issue, Chang said. I-Muin Liu, owner of Eastern Café, said many Asian businesses suffer just because they are immigrants. “They suffer from stereotypes. I don’t get people calling back because of my name (it sounds foreign).” Ethnic businesses can get rejected instantly on the phone just because of their names and accent.

The lack of English skills is another challenge. Take recycling for instance—many restaurant owners don’t know that compost recycling saves the owners a lot of money, Liu said.

“The laws keep changing in the city [in regard to] City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, the water and fire department,” Liu said. “It’s hard for immigrant businesses to keep up. They don’t realize that one city department makes one change, another department also makes other changes.”

Liu’s challenge also goes deeper. He is fighting public perceptions that the Chinatown/ID is only a place to eat. It is a meeting place for people who want to meet friends without spending a lot of money, he said.

“Some people don’t want to have dinners, they just want a place for conversations and meeting friends,” said Liu, “they want something quick and casual, but not [to] rush into.” He created Eastern Café and Oasia Tea Zone as living rooms for the community just to talk and greet, he added.

For sure, ID businesses haven’t done enough marketing. Charlie Martin, one of the few non-ethnic ID business owners who runs the Seattle Pinball Museum, has a different concept about marketing.

He said businesses shouldn’t target those who are here. “We need new customers in the ID. We need to get tourists to shop, eat and play in the ID.” There are 20 million visitors going to Pike Place Market and tons of tourists from the cruises. Why can’t the ID get some of those visitors? he asked.

There are also more than 60,000 fans going to games at the Safeco and CenturyLink fields. How come ID businesses received less than .01 percent of visitors from those games?

http://www.nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/34_46/blog_lau.jpgWayne Lau, executive director of Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, said many ethnic businesses don’t have access to capital. “Although the banking industry has worked hard to ensure ethnic minority businesses have access to finance, this message has not effectively been communicated.”

Lau has worked with many immigrant entrepreneurs. His experience is that “most struggle to amass enough capital to bring into the start-up phase of the business.”

Creative solutions?

Many of the businesses the Northwest Asian Weekly interviewed have creative solutions to counter their adversities. Martin, who opened the Seattle Pinball Museum in 2010, has experimented with the lure of events. “If people don’t come to your business, you have to take your business to where the people are.”

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Kau Kau Restaurant storefront

He moves his heavy pinball machines to Hing Hay Park to tie in with Chinatown events. He and his wife, Cindy, move the machines themselves and load them on a van to where events are held, including the Seattle Center and Museums. He also has invited celebrities and their friends to come to his business to have “game night” private parties.

Martin recommended that ID businesses should advertise in tourist magazines so they can get a discount advertising rate.

To combat the $15-minimum-wage burden on businesses, Hoang founded Ethnic Business Coalition, with a grant from the City of Seattle, to produce their own online videos for YouTube, websites, and hiring food bloggers to help market ethnic businesses in Seattle. Hoang is reaching out to the Seahawks to promote ID businesses during its games.

Some ethnic businesses solve their labor shortage problems by working in the kitchen themselves and hiring staff to wait on customers. “It’s easier to retain waited staff than kitchen staff because waiters make more money and their work is not as hard as the kitchen. So my husband and I work in the kitchen instead,” said one owner. (end)

Posted in Business, Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 34 No 46 | 11/7-11/13Comments (0)

BLOG: 2014–Insanity in Chinatown, Seahawks mayhem, and even blackmail

BLOG: 2014–Insanity in Chinatown, Seahawks mayhem, and even blackmail

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Image by Han Bui/NWAW

By Assunta Ng

Next week will be Northwest Asian Weekly’s 33rd anniversary.

So how did 2014 fare for the newspaper? Read the full story

Posted in Editorials, Vol 34 No 4 | 1/17-1/23Comments (1)

BLOG: Restriction to resurrection — Chinatown jailhouse transformed into an artists’ sanctuary

BLOG: Restriction to resurrection — Chinatown jailhouse transformed into an artists’ sanctuary

By Assunta Ng

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Display reflects the building’s past (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) building is located in an auspicious corner of the Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 51 | 12/13-12/19Comments (0)

What happens when Seattle meets China? — Romance, business, and more business

What happens when Seattle meets China? — Romance, business, and more business

By Assunta Ng

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From left: Martha Lee, Ming Zhang, Mike Medeiros, and Michael Christ (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a business panel discussion, “Seattle meets China,” at the Sun Ya restaurant in November. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 50 | 12/6-12/12Comments (0)

BLOG: Why my Chinese friends picked Indian food

BLOG: Why my Chinese friends picked Indian food

By Assunta Ng

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A sample of our feast (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

“What’s the best place for Chinese food?” many Seattle Chinese are frequently confronted with this question. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 47 | 11/15-11/21Comments (0)

BLOG: Six lion dance groups performed for Bruce

BLOG: Six lion dance groups performed for Bruce

By Assunta Ng

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The Lion Dance teams included: the Seattle Kung Fu Club, International Lion Dance and Martial Arts Team, Mak Fai Washington Kung Fu Club Lion Dance Team, Northwest Kung Fu and Fitness, Northwest Wushu Academy, and LQ Lion Dance Team (Photo by Rebecca Ip/NWAW)

Bruce Lee retrospective unifies Chinatown dancers

It is rare to see so many Seattle lion dance groups perform simultaneously. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 43 | 10/18-10/24Comments (0)

BLOG: Seattle vs. Hong Kong

BLOG: Seattle vs. Hong Kong

By Assunta Ng

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Billy Ray and Annette Sharp pose with Wing Luke Executive Director Beth Takekawa. They were the first to attend the exhibition. Ray and Sharp flew in from Kansas. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Within months, I visited two Bruce Lee exhibitions, one in Hong Kong in July and the other on Oct. 4, at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum. For people who saw both, the reactions were similar. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 43 | 10/18-10/24Comments (0)

BLOG: Tasting Ivar’s before it closed

BLOG: Tasting Ivar’s before it closed

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Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW

Of all the Ivar’s restaurants, my favorite is the one that is closed for waterfront development. It is not the restaurant I will miss, but its fish bar. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 42 | 10/11-10/17Comments (0)

BLOG: Hong Kong students’ protest stirs up conflicts within families and friends

BLOG: Hong Kong students’ protest stirs up conflicts within families and friends

By Assunta Ng

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Protestors in Hong Kong (Photo by Jason Liu/NWAW)

I left Hong Kong (HK) in the 1970s, but my family ties are still there. The recent HK students’ protest that started on Sept. 27 has stirred up much conversations and arguments in the former British colony—between husband and wife, among friends, between employers and employees, and among parents and children. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 42 | 10/11-10/17Comments (0)

BLOG: Gary Locke’s new hairstyle?

BLOG: Gary Locke’s new hairstyle?

By Assunta Ng

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Honorable Gary Locke speaks at the Washington Place groundbreaking ceremony (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The former ambassador has only returned to Washington state for a few months after serving for three years as the first Chinese American U.S. ambassador to China. He’s in demand—everyone wants to use his name, have him speak, fundraise, and be a public figure. His name instantly draws traffic. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 41 | 10/4-10/10Comments (0)

BLOG: Lights, camera, action in Chinatown

BLOG: Lights, camera, action in Chinatown

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Extras on set on the intersection of King St. and 7th Ave. (Photo by John Liu/NWAW)

By Assunta Ng

Chinatown was transformed into World War II scenes in Chinatown recently. On the 600 block of S. King St., you would find Chinese dressing in Japanese kimonos, street closed down, Massive Monkees studio turned into the filming sight, Canton Alley filled with drama. What’s going on? You wondered. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 41 | 10/4-10/10Comments (0)

BLOG: Can you reverse aging?

BLOG: Can you reverse aging?

By Assunta Ng

Yes, you can, if you don’t fall into the trap of turning into the stereotype of the grumpy old man or woman. How aging can turn folks into being so negative, insensitive, unkind, stubborn, self-centered, and unloving puzzles me. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 40 |9/27-10/3Comments (1)

BLOG: What the International District needs — Eastern Café and…

BLOG: What the International District needs — Eastern Café and…

By Assunta Ng

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I-Miun Liu

When one out of five small businesses fails in its first year nationwide, Chinatown’s Eastern Café is bucking statistics. It is only a year old, making money, and expanding. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 39 | 9/20-9/26Comments (1)

BLOG: Spotlight on youth — An unforgettable summer!!!

BLOG: Spotlight on youth — An unforgettable summer!!!

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Ina Dash
University of Washington

“I got to see first-hand how bumblebee pollination affects crop production in Seattle’s P-patches (community gardens) through a University of Washington citizen-science project. Insect pollinators are responsible for every one in three bites of food we take and one of the biggest contributors. Sad to say that bees have been declining in population.” Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 37 | 9/6-9/12Comments (0)

BLOG: To mourn or not to mourn at a memorial… — Luther J. Carr Jr. remembered and celebrated

BLOG: To mourn or not to mourn at a memorial… — Luther J. Carr Jr. remembered and celebrated

By Assunta Ng

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Guests remember and celebrate Luther. Note the festive red tablecloth. (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

This is supposed to be a sad blog. But Luther J. Carr Jr., a renaissance man, and a Seattle community leader and entrepreneur, reinvented the purpose of a traditional memorial. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 34 | 8/16-8/22Comments (0)

BLOG: A Hawaiian wedding—recreated in Washington

BLOG: A Hawaiian wedding—recreated in Washington

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Guests mingle and enjoy the festivities. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

My niece Jennifer got married last Saturday. What was amazing was that the newlyweds were Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 33 | 8/9-8/15Comments (0)

BLOG: My list of summer delights is better than ice cream!

BLOG: My list of summer delights is better than ice cream!

By Assunta Ng

What really cools you down during a hot day? It doesn’t have to be a cold beer or ice cream. Psychologically, beer and ice cream might give you the impression that they lower your body temperature. In reality, it’s just the opposite. Ice cream will actually increase your body temperature and beer will dehydrate you. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 32 | 8/2-8/8Comments (0)

BLOG: My Hong Kong diary — World’s highest bar, Ozone! (Part II)

BLOG: My Hong Kong diary — World’s highest bar, Ozone! (Part II)

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View from the Ozone bar (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

If you want to impress someone visiting Hong Kong, take him or her to Ozone, the world’s tallest bar. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 30 | 7/19-7/25Comments (0)

BLOG: The largest ‘hum bow’ in Washington state? — It’s found in Pike Place Market

BLOG: The largest ‘hum bow’ in Washington state? — It’s found in Pike Place Market

By Assunta Ng

Jack Fong, owner of Mee Sum Pastries. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Pike Place Market, rated as the most popular farmers market in the United States, has numerous European bakeries, but only Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 25 | 6/14-6/20Comments (1)

BLOG: Steve Ballmer and the Clippers

BLOG: Steve Ballmer and the Clippers

By Assunta Ng

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Image by Jun Liu/SCP

When I asked Steve Ballmer a question in public in 2011, it quickly created a storm. Read the full story

Posted in Publisher Ng's blog, Vol 33 No 24 | 6/7-6/13Comments (0)

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