Kitchen of Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks after announcement about exit from Hong Kong

The kitchen of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant partially sank overnight. Photo: Alan Chan Photography
The kitchen of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant partially sank overnight. Photo: Alan Chan Photography

Things are going downhill for the iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen as its kitchen partially sank overnight amid preparations for its exit from the city. 

Photos on social media show the kitchen boat – which is structurally separate from the restaurant itself – tilting close to 90 degrees over. 

Police said they received a report at 11:52pm on Tuesday from a 62-year-old security guard who works at the restaurant about the boat taking on water. 

Three officers arrived at the scene and found three people safe on board the boat. 

There were no casualties or missing people. 

Police said the tilting of the boat is believed to have been caused by the poor condition of its structure. 

There is no danger or suspicious circumstances involved, they added. 

The case has been passed on to the Marine Department for follow-up. 

The sinking is the latest setback for the renowned attraction, which has been a fixture in the Aberdeen South Typhoon Shelter for more than four decades. 

Jumbo’s parent company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, announced on Monday that the floating restaurant would leave Hong Kong in June after it failed to find an operator and a dry dock in Hong Kong for it to carry out large-scale inspection and maintenance. It is also facing huge financial losses.

The company said it would look for a suitable parking space out of Hong Kong to lower costs while it waits for a new operator.

The news was met with an outpouring of sadness on social media, with many netizens lamenting the imminent departure of the Southern District icon.

“Is [the floating restaurant] sad to leave Hong Kong 😢,” asked one Instagram user, who reposted some photos of Jumbo’s kitchen sinking.

Photographer Alan Chan said in a Facebook post there were workers boarding the restaurant on Tuesday and they looked like they were preparing for its exit from Hong Kong. 

“For reasons unknown, the kitchen suddenly toppled. It seems like a sign from above,” he said. 

“Whatever you may think of the quality of the food in the restaurant, or you may think that it is not worth the money to eat there, but the significance of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant to [the residents of] Aberdeen is more than just being a tourist attraction, an ordinary Chinese restaurant or a set for Hong Kong films,” said Chai Man-hon, a former district councilor for the Southern District.

Many also took to social media to pay tributes to the floating restaurant with photos and artwork. 

Established in 1976, the restaurant features an exquisite ancient imperial style that is the product of four years of hard work by craftsmen.

Jumbo has hosted numerous dignitaries and celebrities, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Tom Cruise.

But the restaurant has been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with its owner reporting an accumulated loss in excess of HK$100 million (US$12.7 million). 

In 2020, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in her policy address plans to reinvigorate the Southern District, including revitalizing the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, after its owner agreed to donate it to Ocean Park.

But the restaurant’s parent company said on Monday it was notified by the amusement park that it had failed to find a third party to operate the boat and the donation has become invalid.

The company also said it had offered to donate the restaurant to more than 10 catering firms and organizations but none was willing to take it up due to the high costs. 

On Tuesday, the city’s leader dismissed calls to use taxpayers’ money to bail out the struggling icon.

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