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Beloved Chinatown restaurant Triple Crown faces eviction due to COVID-19

"Support your local small businesses. They need you."

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

One of Chinatown's most iconic restaurants is currently facing eviction due to unpaid rent, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune. Triple Crown Restaurant owner Spencer Ng hasn't been able to make regular payments since April 2020 due entirely to the ongoing pandemic. According to court documents surfaced by the Tribune, landlord Michael Wing is seeking more than $184,000 in rent as of December 1, 2020.

Ng says it's been impossible to keep up with payments due to indoor dining restrictions as well as the fact that his second-floor restaurant wasn't able to offer outdoor seating this summer.

"We were one of those unique spaces that couldn't do outdoor dining and we couldn't open the windows, which prohibited us from benefiting from any of the stuff that happened this summer, which is our busiest time of the year," Ng says.

This week, the 250-seat restaurant resumed indoor dining but can only seat 25 guests at a time, in accordance with the city's reopening guidelines. Ng argues that no amount of carryout or delivery can make up for the 200-plus covers the business counts on daily to make rent. He's challenging the eviction on the basis of "impossibility of performance," a defense used when a contractual obligation is impossible to perform.

"I have to prepare mentally for the worst," Ng says. "I do have some hope, but from what I see right now, it's not looking too good."

Ng's mother opened Triple Crown in Chinatown back in 1996, and the family eventually moved the restaurant into the current location at 2217 S Wentworth Avenue in 2008. Ng says that if they are evicted, he'd like to eventually reopen elsewhere.

"We have so many memories here. The restaurant put me and my brothers through college," Ng says. "I wanted to do the best I could to carry on that legacy."

Ng says that he briefly considered crowdfunding for financial support but ultimately decided against it—even if he could come up with the $184,000 in back rent, he'd still need to be able to make ongoing rent payments to the tune of $24,000 per month. His plea to Chicago? "Just support your local small businesses," he says. "They need you. They need all the help they can get."

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