Nightlife is an essential component of Chinatown’s character, and in the wake of closings of famed spots Le Baron and Madame Wang, no location better exemplifies Chinatown’s contemporary nightlife scene than Mr. Fong’s. For the first installment of our exploration of Chinatown’s past, present, and future, Jayne created an oral portrait of the boys behind the newly minted bar as well as the bar’s namesake, the real estate agent and power-broker Mr. Fong himself. Explore our audio tour through Chinatown's evolving façade below.
Located directly under the Manhattan Bridge, Mr. Fong’s is the recently opened Chinatown bar joining the ranks of hangouts like 169 and forgtmenot—haunts that have defined nightlife below Canal Street for much of the past decade. Mr. Fong’s takes its name from the real Mr. Fong, Chinatown’s foremost real estate broker and unofficial gatekeeper largely responsible for the changing face of Two Bridges. “He has to sacrifice Chinese culture to keep growing his business,” Jayne explained of Fong’s decision to rent to non-Chinese tenants. Far from “locals only,” Mr. Fong’s draws a diverse customer base from across the five boroughs, and even the rare Chinese patron stopping in for a drink after work.
For the owner’s of Mr. Fong’s, Lucas Moran, Noah Shelley, Aisa Blue Shelley, Daniel Eric Gold, Adam Moonves and Jordan Hadley, it was about “blending into” the neighborhood rather than disrupting its character. That meant forgoing visible signage and eschewing the velvet rope mentality. “I don’t think we had any intention of changing the neighborhood,” explained Aisa. That said, the boys behind Mr. Fong’s are hardly naive about their business’s effect on Chinatown. “This is New York City,” Aisa conceded. “Every generation [the] neighborhood turns over.”
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