The noodles are pulled by hand, the food is hot, and the workers are ready to serve the dishes at Chinese restaurants in Flushing.
But the customers are nowhere to be found.
That's because of the fear stemming from the Wuhan coronavirus that has swept through the region. Despite no cases having been found anywhere in the tri-state as the illness spreads, many are apparently hesitant to go in certain areas — like Chinatown sections in Queens and Manhattan.
And that fear is driving down business for local eateries. Jian Lin, the manager of Lanzhou Noodle at the New World Mall food court, said he is seeing about half as many customers as before the virus outbreak. Chen Long, who owns Heat Noodle in the same food court, said its about a 60 percent drop off for his business.
"I understand, but I also want to tell people it’s okay because there’s no one with the virus in New York," said Long, who is from Wuhan — the epicenter of the illness.
Usually, the lunch hour means the food court where their restaurants are would be packed. But tourists are avoiding the Chinatown hotspots, and even locals are more apt to stay home recently over their concerns that New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said "are not based on fact or based on science."
In an effort to get more people coming back to the eateries, Queens Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Grech wanted to show that the neighborhood is "open for business." Other political leaders in the city, including Mayor de Blasio, had lunch at Royal Queen restaurant on Thursday to show it's safe to eat there.
"Everyone should be coming to Flushing. They should be coming to Chinatown. They should be coming to Sunset Park," said Johnson. "They should be going to neighborhoods and restaurants that have some of the finest food in New York.”
Medical officials with the city are urging people to go about their normal lives as well. "We want to reassure everyone that New Yorkers should go about their every day business as usual," said Dr. Raul Perea-Henze, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.
Doctors in the tri-state and the U.S. say that the flu is still a much bigger concern than the coronavirus. With the exception of anyone who has been to Wuhan recently, chances of catching the illness are extremely low.