After filing for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, Japan’s oldest existing Chinese restaurant, Heichinrou, is shutting down after 138 years of business.
The restaurant, located in Yokohama Chinatown, first opened in 1884, catering to foreigners who moved to the city during the Meiji Restoration. Boasting 138 years of business, Heichinrou claimed itself to be the oldest existing Chinese restaurant in Japan on their website.
Due to struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the restaurant’s main branch began filing for bankruptcy upon the request of creditors and has collected a debt of more than 300 million yen (approximately $2.3 million), reported Teikoku Databank.
Heichinrou accrued 10.8 billion yen (approximately $82.5 million) in sales by the end of March 2007; however, sales drastically fell to 6.5 billion yen (approximately $49.6 million) by the end of March 2016. The pandemic took a final toll on the restaurant, causing the main branch to close its doors on May 15.
“Due to the high cost structure and sluggish profitability, the business’ performance became poor due to the slump in corporate demand due to the economic downturn, and the annual sales in FY3 / 16 were only about 6.52 billion yen,” Teikoku Databank stated. “For this reason, although it was trying to rebuild by restructuring etc., it did not improve, and the entire business was transferred to another corporation established in April 2016 with the investment of a Hong Kong fund (formerly).”
With multiple stories and a location only a few minutes from the main gate of Chinatown, Heichinrou once lured many tourists from Japan and other countries.
The restaurant’s other three branches, located in Tokyo, Osaka and Kitakyushu, will remain open as they are managed by a separate company.