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SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Majesty Restaurant

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Volunteers from Mt. Carmel School and close friends of the Majesty Restaurant hand out bento boxes filled with food last week. (NEIL FAMA)

A restaurant that also gives away free food to anyone, no questions asked. That’s Majesty Restaurant in Garapan.

This establishment has upended the standard business model for restaurants by also making it its mission to help the unemployed, those with reduced work hours, the low-income, and the homeless people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Which is why Saipan Tribune has chosen to honor Majesty Restaurant as its 2020 Small Business of the Year.

After being momentarily closed in the wake of the pandemic scare, Majesty Restaurant reopened mid-year and created its Full Belly, Full Hearts 1,000 Meals Initiative, which rose to the challenge of helping a large section of the CNMI community that were out of work and getting hungry each passing day. Working with its partners, Micronesian Brokers Inc. and Marianas Medical Center, Majesty Restaurant has so far distributed 1,022 hot meals and 692 relief bags.

Majesty Restaurant owner Alfred Ho explains the idea behind this initiative: “I love the CNMI. My children were born and raised here. That is why for me it is so hard to see what is happening here right now. A lot of people are suffering. One hot meal can make a difference in someone’s day and a bag to take home can help a family can make a bigger different. It is not much, but we try to do what we can,” he said.

He recounted that it was his niece, Jacqueline Che, who shared the idea with him since she volunteers in distributing relief bags. “We came up with the idea of offering both the bags of relief items and hot meals. That way people will come and leave with more than just canned goods. They can also eat meals prepared by our chefs,” he said.

Its food and relief bag distribution effort isn’t done yet. Majesty Restaurant plans to continue the Full Belly, Full Hearts 1,000 Meals Initiative throughout the new year.

“We will be continuing our distribution through January (delivery/meals on wheels) and plan on doing another on-site meal distribution right before the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 12,” added Ho.

Outside its humanitarian effort, Majesty Restaurant is one of the most well-known Chinese restaurants on Saipan. It was established in 2013 by Top Development Inc., which is a company involved in the tourism industry via hotel, restaurant, and bus transportation service operations.

The restaurant is best known for its flavorful dim sum, Peking duck, seafood, and sweet, and sour pork. “We use fresh and high-quality ingredients in every dish. We take great care in preparing our dishes. We also ensure that the cleanliness and ambiance of our restaurant [is up to par] so people can enjoy their meals,” said Ho.

Majesty Restaurant had to shutter its massive red Chinese-style doors in the early part of this year due to COVID-19 concerns. “We closed the restaurant in March 19 and reopened back first week of July. Although business is slow, we are surviving thanks to the patronage of our loyal customers. Our restaurant caters to both locals and tourists. That is why we are still in operation.” Ho said that many island families go to their restaurant for either in-house dining or to-go.

At the end of the day, Ho said, Majesty Restaurant owes its continued existence to the local community and is honored to serve them the past seven years. “I want to thank the people of the CNMI for supporting Majesty Restaurant through the years. It is our honor to be a part of this community. Thank you for supporting us. As long as we are here, we will do our best to continue serving you your favorite Chinese food and also giving back to this community that we love. Business is slower than usual, but we are thankful for the community’s support. Because of local patronage, we are able to continue serving the best Chinese dishes on island,” he said.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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