A Chinese restaurant that’s been closed since the end of January due to COVID-19’s effect on the tourism industry reopened last Monday with a focus on catering to island residents.
Saipan Seaside Restaurant chef Chen Chuzhong said they shuttered their doors last Jan. 30 soon after the coronavirus outbreak started in China, whose tourists are the Beach Road establishment’s main source of revenue.
“Now we’ve opened last June 15. To ensure the safety of employees and customers, all our workers are equipped with masks and disposable gloves. …We’d also refuse customers who exhibit a fever,” he said.
Aside from those safety protocols, Saipan Seaside Restaurant also has hand sanitizers at the ready, distance and direction signs to guide customers, tables that are 6 feet apart, and no more than four people per table.
Before COVID-19, the restaurant, which was founded by Jose C. Cabrera in 2005, hosted anywhere between 200 and 250 customers, mostly tourists.
“Since we made some money before, we were able to survive somehow the past six months. This is a global disaster. We will not blame any country or region. I believe that the people of the islands need to unite to defeat the virus,” said Chen.
Saipan Seaside Restaurant’s reboot in the time of coronavirus will now rely on enticing the resident market.
For starters, Chen has been offering $10 special lunches since Monday. Customers can choose from four different dishes that come with a free soup and drink.
Just some of the special lunches Chen has whipped up are sweet and sour pork, fried steak, hot and sour cucumber, and fried spring rolls; salt and pepper ribs, fish fillets, kimchi, and mapo tofu; garlic pork chops, fried chicken, corn pancakes, hot and sour cucumber; and beef with oyster sauce, chicken, French fries, and kimchi.
“I can make food that’s local such as sweet and sour pork, mapo tofu, roast duck, various pizzas, salt and pepper ribs, New Orleans fried chicken, salt and pepper yoghurt, peach salad shrimp, salt and pepper prawns, etc.,” he added.
The 47-year-old Chen has lived on Saipan since 1998 and has been working as a chef for 30 years now. “My two daughters were born here too. We have regarded this as [our] second home. I love this [island] and the local people,” he said.
Saipan Seaside Restaurant is located along Beach Road beside the Cabrera Center in Garapan and is open 11am-2pm for lunch and 5pm-8pm for dinner. For more information or reservations, call 235-1033 or go to their Facebook page.