Trip To Philly

I just returned from my trip to Philly (aka Home of the Cheesesteak). What was really cool about my trip was taking the bus from our NYC's Chinatown to Phillly's Chinatown. I got a round trip ticket for $20 bucks! That's the price of a cab ride from Chinatown to the UWS.
I've known about the buses to Philly for a long time now, but never realized how convenient it is. They leave almost every half hour and the trip is oh so smooth.

My good buddy recently moved out there, so I ventured to find out more information. Before this visit, I haven't been to Philly since 4th grade.

Now that I realize that the bus is so affordable and reliable, I will be visiting Philadelphia much more often.

Also note that these buses also go to Ohio, Richmond, and other cities. The location of the bus office is on Division and Market Street.


Last night we I had some good food and drinks with lovely friends. These people also happen to be APA advocates from around the city. It was nice to bring them into Chinatown and chit chat about politics in the city.

I don't much alcohol but I do love the food at Yello. For a bar or even for a restaurant, the food is surprisingly good. I am a huge fan of their chicken wings and Belgium fries. My friends are also lovers of their quesadillas.

In this picture: Andy Woo (John Liu's Office, Brooklyn APA Advocate), Bonnie Duen (John Liu's Office), Me, Margaret Li (from Assemblywoman Ellen Young's Office, Kendra Lee (Executive Director Of the Greater Chinatown Community Association)

I'm super lucky to have such fabulous friends who are super involved in the community! We all love Chinatown!

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory Gets a Scoop of Business Savvy

New York (March 20, 2008) Mike D from the Beastie Boys sported a red t-shirt with a green dragon licking an ice cream cone to the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors. A regular customer of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory here, he posed for a Wired magazine cover photo in the shop's yellow dragon tee.

The buzz about the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a relatively new phenomenon that co-owner Christina Seid is trying to infuse into the 30-year-old shop that her father founded. As one of the youngest femail business owners in Chinatown, 27-year-old Seid is branding the ice cream shop in modern, innovative ways that attract sweet teeth from beyond the lower Manhattan neighborhood.

The Chinatown ice cream parlor – where lychee is the most popular flavor – draws a clientele from all over the city curious to taste the unconventional flavors. Nearly 50 percent of the shop's customers are non-Asian and celebrities like acress Cyhtnia Nixon are known to stop b for a scoop, Seid said. Restaurants throughout Manhattan such as the Noodle Bar and Ginza order ice cream at wholesale prices from The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.

Phil Seid, Christina Seid's father, founded the business at 65 Bayard St. in New York as a restaurant with one of his brothers in 1977 and ultimately grew the business into an ice cream shop with another brother, who died in 2004. It was then that Christina Seid decided to join her dad as co-owner of the store.

As a child, Seid never even considered taking over her dad's business. Chinese kids generally do not want to take on the $4 dumpling shops or similar small businesses that their parents started, as they are not seen as sophisticated or lucrative career choices, Seid said.

"I always wanted a 9-to-5 job growing up because I understood the struggles of a small business," she said. "The 'opportuinity' to own the business seemed more like an 'obligation' at the time."

After graduating from the University of Rochester in 2002, Seid attended Queens Collage and earned her master's in education. After teaching for a few years while watching the store become increasingly busy in a safer and more popular Chinatown, she joined the family business.

"When the ice cream business started taking off, it just seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to be involved in the family business while staying active in other nonprofits int he community," she said.

Running the ice cream store in Chinatown enables Seid to engage in her inner entrepreneur. She stores a bag of business magazines behind the freezers in the ice cream shop that she reads to develop new marketing ideas for the store.

Creating a website in 2004 and a blog about Chinatown are two of the marketing strategies that Seid has used to boost business. Customers can read reviews and place orders for t-shirts and ice cream cakes on the website, in addition to over the telephone or in person in the store. The website also features photos and press clippings about the shop.

In addition, Seid uses the website to incorporate ice cream flavor requests from customers into the daily ice cream selection. Flavors like durian, black sesame, egg custard and zen butter are all new to the store since Seid joined the partnership. She says that while her dad was originally hesitant to sell the exotic flavors, they are now among some of the most popular.

Seid is also hoping to boost awareness of the ice cream shop and the neighborhood as a whole with her recently published multicultural children's book, "Saturdays in Chinatown." The story is told through the eyes of an 8-year-old Chinese-American kid who lives in the suburbs and explores his heritage on the weekends in Chinatown with his family. The bilingual book that introduces Chinese-speaking and English-speaking readers to the community is Christina Seid's effort to generate more foot traffic into the community while breaking Asian-American stereotypes.

"Oftentimes, Asian-Americans are depicted as having slanty eyes, yellow skin and they are exoticized," said Seid. "This book is just to show people that we are just like everyone else and one of the best ways to stop these stereotypes is at a child's age."

As a member of Asian Women in Business and Project by Project, Seid has a passion for helping other businesses and causes within the community – and it all makes good business sense. If the neighborhood and its businesses languish, the ice cream business melts along with them.

Construction Plans in Chatham Square

Jan who has been a long time customer and fan of CICF is also a well known community activist. He has always kept me in the loop of what is going on. So the latest news now is that there are plans demolish Chatham Square and complete redirect traffic flow on almost all the streets coming into the square. Why is this a big deal? Because the city wants to push through plans without getting consent of the people in the neighborhood. Many Chinatown organizations feel that the public hearings on the plans are being held so close to the release of the information and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation times for many people, that there is not possibly enough time to review the data. In Jan's words, "The way the information is being released is almost to keep people out of the loop of what is going on." Construction in Chinatown is usually always terrible unless it is very well planned out. For the businesses as well as for the residents. As is, Chinatown has an overwhelming population with narrow streets. Many of our busiest streets are one lane. Several businesses in lower Manhattan, particularly around Ground Zero constructiuon sites have gone out of business because of prolonged street construction. Many waited for years for LMDC compensation which came too late, or was not enough to sustain them.

The businesses here suffer when it is difficult to receive or complete their deliveries. When the streets are hard to navigate, customers stay away from the Chinatown area all together.

Another problem is that Chinatown has a large elderly population. It is hard for ambulances and emergency vehicles to navigate with ease. These people are our family members, friends, and neighbors. We would like to them to be cared for as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.

During 1999, there was construction done on the water main in which they had to dig up the street. When it is unpleasant to commute to the area because roads are under construction, businesses go out. During this time many businesses had gone under.

Right now we are in midst of postponing construction until the public has been notified about all the details.

Chinatown Neighboring Businesses

The restaurant Yee Li on the corner on Bayard and Elizabeth street had a gas fire a couple of weeks ago. The noise was so loud that it woke up everyone in the neighborhood. A good portion of the restaurant was burned out and renovations are currently taking place. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Hsin Wong mid block.
Today, I went to Hsin Wong for my regular "som bow fan," where you get 3 dishes over rice. The owner insisted on treating me to dinner because I had treated him to ice cream on occasion a few months before. I was very touched by the gesture. Even though one of his restaurants just burned to a crisp, he chose to offer me a free meal.
Chinatown is beautiful in that way. It is a real community that cares about each other. Even though not all of us physically live in the area, the space connects us all.