“We don't want to just run a restaurant, we want to make the Jing Fong experience even better,” said community organizer Don Lee in a phone interview.
The plan would make Jing Fong, one of the few unionized restaurants in the city, a high-profile example of a collectively-owned business. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new resources to help struggling businesses convert from single-ownership to employee-owned structures that can come with tax benefits and higher return on profits: "employee-owned businesses create a tremendous reality of equity and fairness, of buy-in, of opportunity to create capital and have an ownership stake that changes the whole reality, particularly for working class folks and particularly in communities of color," de Blasio said at a press conference in December.
Some of the details of the plan remain unclear, Lee acknowledged, including the amount of money needed to set up the collective ownership plan and to restore the space. He said the Lams have already decided to give up the 20 Elizabeth Street lease, so the space will be available to operate a new restaurant there.