Several of the Nepali businesses in and around Jackson Heights are closed or only partly operational.
This article originally ran at Khasokhas.com, and has been translated and reprinted through their courtesy.
When you call Himalayan Yak, a popular Nepali restaurant in Jackson Heights, New York, you get an automatic message, not a greeting from the staff. The restaurant is located at 72-20 Roosevelt Ave. The restaurant has been temporarily closed since Dec. 20, said operator Gyaltsen Gurung. In addition to Nepali, Tibetan, Bhutanese and Indian food, this restaurant is popular for live melodious Nepali and Hindi songs and music. It is not certain when it will open.
Gurung says, “It is not yet certain when it will open. It is not possible to open a restaurant until the indoor dining is smooth. It is hoped that even if indoor dining is open up to 25 percent, it will be possible to survive. Otherwise, there is no address to open it.”
He hopes Gov. Andrew Cuomo will come up with some plans. “If 25 percent of indoor dining is open, it is hoped that at least those who work will be paid. The cold and noise of the elevated 7 train made it difficult to conduct outdoor dining,” he said. “On the other hand, due to lack of space, outdoor dining has a capacity of only 10 people at most, making it difficult to cover the cost of the restaurant. So the restaurant had to close.”
It was difficult to pay the salaries of the employees, he added.
“We had struggled and worked hard. We even tried to reopen the restaurant, which was closed in March,” he said. “We also tried outdoor seating. It was getting cold. Without indoor dining, the restaurant could not be operated. “
Founded in 2004, it is the first Nepali restaurant in New York. The restaurant has not closed before, except for a brief renovation in 2009. The eatery is very popular among Nepalis and non-Nepalese people with traditional Nepali food ‘Dal-Bhat-Tarkari,’ Nepali Momo and Yak dishes. The two-story restaurant is also a popular venue for various events of the Nepali community.
The restaurant was named the best Tibetan restaurant by the Village Voice in 2008. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal also published features and reviews about the restaurant’s cuisine.
The Jackson Heights area of New York is known as Mini Nepal. There are more than a dozen Nepali restaurants in and around Jackson Heights. Some of these restaurants are closed and some are only partially operational.
The Bamboo House and Bar has also been temporarily closed. Operator Nabaraj KC has said it was due to the decline in business during the epidemic and problems with outdoor dining due to the cold.
The restaurant has been closed for more than three months, even for takeout and delivery. It will reopen if the situation improves, after getting permission to operate indoor dining or for outdoor dining, said KC.
The Bamboo House and Bar has been in operation since 2018, and was also temporarily closed last March due to the pandemic. Although it was reopened for some time, it could not be continued.
Take-out and online delivery is now in operation at Thakali Kitchen, which was also completely closed for some time.
While it is not certain when the temporarily closed restaurants will reopen, those restaurants that are open are also running with great difficulty.
“There is not much space left for outdoor operations,” said Nabin Sherchan, the owner of Mustang Thakali Kitchen, a popular Nepali restaurant in Jackson Heights. On the other hand, it is not possible to operate outdoors due to the cold weather, so only takeout and delivery is in operation now.