By Jennifer 8. Lee | September 3, 2007
I wrote a piece on the closing of May May Chinese Bakery on Pell Street in Chinatown after 42 years. It is so sad, because their food really is amazing — like discernably a cut above anything else you try; flakier, freshier, flavorfuler (is that a word? now it is).
As I explain, May Mayâ€™s closing is not a tale of rising rent or falling demand â€” as is often the case with ethnic food shops in New York City that are doubly squeezed by gentrification and assimilation of the customers. The companyâ€™s products are as popular as ever.
John Hung, one of the brothers who owns the business, said that he works 360 days a year. They are too tired and didn’t want to sell it to someone that would taint the brand. And the next generation doesn’t want to take over the family business. They are educated and don’t want to work that hard. No matter how gourmet or upscale or written up in Zagats you are: Food businesses are hard labor. Long days, long weeks. So in a way, the goal of the family business (to give their families a foothold) worked so well it killed the family business.
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