Coronavirus misinformation hurting local restaurants

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COLUMBIA – Business owners say fears stemming from misinformation about the coronavirus are causing their business to unfairly take a hit.

“All of our supplies are from a St. Louis Company,” China Star owner Julie Weng said.

Experts around the world have said there is no reason to be concerned about eating at Chinese restaurants. 

But still, Weng said it’s evident some customers haven’t been able to make the connection that her restaurant’s food does not come straight from China.

“I understand people get scared,” Weng said, “but you can get scared for anything.”

She said the restaurant has seen a mild decline in business over the past month or so. But they’re not alone. She said other Chinese restaurant owners in town have told her they too have seen a decline.

Weng and her husband bought China Star seven years ago to carry on a family tradition.

“My father is a chef,” Weng said. “My parents had their own business and when I was little, I worked the cashier.”

Weng makes it clear to her employees, they are part of her family.

“They’re some of the most kind and compassionate people I’ve ever worked for,” manager Katie Hancock said. “This is the first place I’ve ever worked that I feel like part of a family.”

She said it’s upsetting the family owned restaurant has taken a hit, especially since the fears around it are unfounded.

“I work here, my children eat here,” Hancock said. “As a mother, I wouldn’t work here or be here if it wasn’t 100% safe for my family.”

She wants people who have taken their business elsewhere out of fear to know there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“Don’t buy into the fear, it’s absolutely safe,” she said. “None of us travel to China, none of us travel overseas. We’re all local residents. We’re all safe people. We all use safe food.”