Hong Kong’s famous floating restaurant removed after half a century

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s jumbo floating restaurant, a famous but aging tourist attraction featured in several Cantonese and Hollywood films, was moved out of town on Tuesday after the COVID pandemic finally overwhelm the struggling business. .

The spirited behemoth, which is 76 meters (250 ft) tall, can hold 2,300 diners, shortly before noon when it emerges from the southern Hong Kong Island typhoon shelter where it has sat for nearly half a century.

Designed like a Chinese royal palace and once considered a must-see site, the restaurant has attracted visitors from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise, and has been featured in several films – including Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” Which is about a deadly global pandemic.

Operators of the lavish restaurant cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for closing their doors in March 2020 after nearly a decade of financial woes.

The restaurant drew visitors from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise

Restaurant owner Melco International Development announced last month that Jumbo will leave Hong Kong and wait for a new operator at an undisclosed location, before the license expires in June. Under cloudy skies, a scattered group of spectators gathered on the Aberdeen coast to watch as it was being dragged.

Watching the hard progress of the restaurant in the shelter waters was Mr Wong, a 60-year-old man, who said he had come specifically to see its departure. “The exterior was a symbol of Hong Kong for many years,” he said, adding that he once ate there 20 years ago.

“I believe it will return and I look forward to it,” he added emphatically.

Another onlooker, who gave her name as Mrs Chan, said she had heard the news and had come to take one last picture before leaving the restaurant. “I think it’s very sad to see it go,” she said.

“Jumbo has a long history and has attracted many locals and tourists alike… it is a restaurant that is known to the world.”

Opened in 1976 by the late casino tycoon Stanley Ho, the jumbo floating restaurant embodies the height of luxury, reportedly costing more than HK$30 million ($3.8 million) to build. It had a “Dragon Throne” in the style of the Ming Dynasty as well as a grand fresco.

Published in Dawn, June 15, 2022