Yelp.com is rolling out a new feature to allow businesses to identify as "Asian-owned'' so that users can find and support them easily online amid the coronavirus pandemic and a surge in anti-Asian violence nationwide.
The feature will allow business owners to adjust their settings on the online business directory. It is hoped that this will help potential patrons search for Asian-owned restaurants or bars or other businesses in their city under the filter. Yelp, based in San Francisco, has launched similar settings for women-owned and black-owned businesses.
Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder and CEO of Yelp, said in a statement: "In partnership with Gold House, we announced a new business attribute that will give businesses the ability to self-identify as Asian-owned if they choose to do so, and make it easy for users to find and support Asian-owned businesses on Yelp. … Patronizing Asian-owned businesses is one small step we can all take to drive meaningful change and create lasting impact."
Yelp said that its latest economic impact report on diverse businesses showed that searches for Asian-owned businesses had increased by 130 percent in February. The Yelp Foundation condemned recent attacks on Asians and said it will double match any donations their employees make to Asian and Pacific Islander organizations such as Stop AAPI Hate.
Stoppelman added: "The alarming rise in xenophobic and racist hate crimes against Asian Americans over the last year, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and racist rhetoric tied to the virus, is heartbreaking to witness. These latest attacks are yet another reminder that we must all use our voices and whatever platform we have to reject racism in all forms."
In New York, some Chinese-owned restaurants have been forced to permanently close part or all of their operations because the coronavirus pandemic led to a decrease in revenue. The Chinatown Business Improvement District Partnership estimates that at least 17 restaurants and 139 stores in Chinatown have permanently closed during the pandemic.
Jing Fong, the largest restaurant in Chinatown that specializes in dim sum, was forced to close its banquet hall in March after 28 years in operation. The business told The New York Times that revenue fell by 85 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 employees have lost their jobs. The restaurant will, however, still have takeout and outdoor dining, but said the future is uncertain.
Restaurants and businesses in Chinatown also are facing difficulties because many regulars are choosing to stay away over fears that the area is a hot spot for the coronavirus. The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans also has sparked concern. New York City police have logged 31 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 so far.
Last week, Joseph Russo, 27, a white male from Brooklyn, New York, was arrested in three separate attacks on Asians in a month.