Kim Chee closes after 19 years; pols want more help for local restaurants

June 15, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Kim Chee closes after 19 years; pols want more help for local restaurants
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South Brooklyn is saying goodbye to another longtime eatery.

Korean restaurant Kim Chee, 9324 Third Ave., is shutting its doors for good.

“After 19 years, we are sad to notify our customers that we are permanently closed,” said a sign outside the restaurant. “We want to thank everyone for all of your support [through] the years and we will miss you all. Thank you.”

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The announcement came just after a group of restaurant and small business owners from the five boroughs met at the Salty Dog bar and grill to discuss concerns about the city’s reopening schedule and the effects it will have on their businesses.

“It is heartbreaking to see beloved businesses in our neighborhood close after decades,” said State Sen. Andrew Gounardes. “Thanks to Kim Chee for serving great food all these years – they will be sorely missed. It’s clear that we have to do so much more to rescue our beloved restaurants – otherwise we will lose them forever.”

“These restaurants can’t survive if they don’t reopen soon,” said Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. “The bottom line is we need the mayor to take action and not delay the process anymore. I support this group’s effort to push the city to reopen sooner so we don’t see more restaurants like Kim Chee closing.”

“My wife and I loved going to Kim Chee for bibimbap,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “I’m really sad to see them close. I wish the owners the best of luck in the future endeavors and I thank them for their time serving Bay Ridge delicious Korean food for so many years.”

Kim Chee joins a list of venerable eateries that have closed in recent months, including My Thai Cafe, 7803 Third Ave.; La Sorrentina Ristorante, 6522 11th Ave.; and Jay & Lloyd’s Kosher Deli, 2718 Ave. U.

On June 11, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a revitalization program for restaurants hit hard by the pandemic.

“From providing local restaurants with new resources to engaging our youth, we’re ensuring our city can reopen fairly and equitably,” he said.

According to the mayor’s office, the Restaurant Revitalization Program will provide restaurants with short-term payroll support now, funding subsidized wages for displaced restaurant workers who will prepare meals (including some free) for their communities. Participating restaurants will be eligible for funding up to $30,000 each, to be used to pay wages of $20 per hour to subsidized employees for at least six weeks.

In addition, the city is collaborating with One Fair Wage (OFW), which will launch its High Road Kitchens program in New York City, making $1 million available to support local restaurants with funding of up to $35,000 for each.

The city and OFW will direct $3 million into the hardest-hit communities to support approximately 100 restaurants and 1,000 displaced restaurant workers and provide these communities with approximately 53,000 meals from six to 12 weeks.

“It’s great to see Mayor de Blasio heeding our call from the early weeks of this COVID-19 crisis for the need to financially support restaurants who are supporting their neighbors in need, including so many of our essential workers,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “Now that City Hall is expanding upon this effort with the Restaurant Revitalization Program, we can feed the need for more of our small businesses that are the economic backbone of our communities.”

Gounardes said it’s a positive step, but more needs to be done.

“I’m glad that the city announced a new program to provide grants to struggling restaurants,” he said. “But they only have a plan to help 100 restaurants – total. Our restaurant industry is in grave trouble. This program needs to be expanded ASAP.”

“It feels good to say ‘small businesses are the backbone of the economy,’ but talk is cheap,” said Brannan. “Our small businesses are withering on the vine. And even with ‘Phase II’ finally on the horizon, most businesses are languishing in purgatory due to a lack of clear guidance on how and when they can reopen safely.”

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