Famed Hong Kong floating restaurant towed away after half a century

Published June 15, 2022
THE iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant.—Reuters
THE iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant.—Reuters

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Jumbo Floating Restaurant, a famed but ageing tourist attraction that featured in multiple Cantonese and Hollywood films, was towed out of the city on Tuesday after the Covid pandemic finally sank the struggling business.

The buoyant behemoth, which at 76 metres (250 feet) long could house 2,300 diners, set out shortly before noon from the southern Hong Kong Island typhoon shelter where it has sat for nearly half a century.

Designed like a Chinese imperial palace and once considered a must-see landmark, the restaurant drew visitors from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise, and featured in several films — including Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion”, about a deadly global pandemic.

The lavish restaurant’s operators cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for finally closing its doors in March 2020, after around a decade of financial woes.

The restaurant drew visitors from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise

Restaurant owner Melco Inter­national Development announced last month that ahead of its licence expiration in June, Jumbo would leave Hong Kong and await a new operator at an undisclosed location. Under overcast skies, a scattered group of onlookers gathered on the Aberdeen waterfront to see it be dragged away.

Watching the restaurant’s ponderous progress across the shelter waters was Mr Wong, a 60-year-old man who said he had come specially to see its departure. “The exterior was for many years a symbol of Hong Kong,” he said, adding he had eaten there once 20 years ago.

“I believe it will come back and I look forward to it,” he added wistfully.

Another spectator, who gave her name as Mrs Chan, said she had heard the news and came to take one last picture by the restaurant before it left. “I think it is such a pity to see it go,” she said.

“Jumbo has a long history and it has attracted many locals and tourists...It’s a restaurant that’s known to the world.”

Opened in 1976 by the late casino tycoon Stanley Ho, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant embodied the height of luxury, reportedly costing more than HK$30 million ($3.8 million) to build. It featured a “dragon throne” in the style of the Ming dynasty as well as an opulent mural.

Published in Dawn,June 15th, 2022

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