HK’s Jumbo Floating Restaurant towed away after years of financial troubles

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - Hong Kong Jumbo Restaurant
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By: Jordan Chua


Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant, which dazzled citygoers since its opening in 1976, was towed away from its home in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, on Tuesday after failed efforts to revitalize the restaurant and financial losses.

The seafood restaurant was a floating imperial palace, with elaborate dragons and pagodas detailing the restaurant’s striking red, green, and gold facade, and has welcomed many affluent visitors such as the legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, former US president Jimmy Carter, and Queen Elizabeth II herself. It was also the star of films itself, featuring in Bond installment The Man With the Golden Gun and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion.

Melco International Development, the restaurant’s operators, had announced plans to move the Jumbo Restaurant out of Hong Kong city prior to the restaurant’s license expiration in June. The Jumbo Restaurant’s new destination remains undisclosed as it awaits a new operator.

Blame was placed on the coronavirus pandemic for the restaurant’s financial losses, but the beloved boat was already showing signs of wear long before the pandemic began. Social tensions in 2019 bit down on Hong Kong’s overall travel and food industries, while Melco reported cumulative losses exceeding HK$100 million. Without seeing profits since 2013, the glittering Jumbo Restaurant was quickly overshadowed by sky-high maintenance fees. It closed in March 2020 and had been sitting silently in Aberdeen ever since.

Despite pleas from Hong Kong citizens and public figures to save the Jumbo Restaurant, the local government refused to take action.

“[T]he government has no plans to invest money in the operation of the restaurant as we are not good at running such premises,” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated in late May.

Lam goes on to add that, “We won’t force through an unfeasible proposal or one that requires a large amount of public money for implementation simply because it has been raised in the policy address […] I find this situation to be of no problem at all.”

On May 31, the kitchen barge of the Jumbo Restaurant capsized just two days after the towing was announced. There were no reported injuries or deaths, despite the barge having tilted nearly halfway into the water. The barge will be left behind in Aberdeen.

Do you think that the Jumbo Restaurant will be making a comeback in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Featured photo from Sam Tsang.

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