RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Christmas is the busiest day of the year for many Chinese restaurants in North Texas, and the crowds are a welcome sight after a tough year.

“We actually had to order a day ahead of time to get the food because they get so busy,” said Mike Weinberg, a customer at Jeng Chi in Richardson. “It’s crazy.”

Jeng Chi’s dining room was filled on Christmas evening, at half capacity per state orders regarding COVID-19.

“Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year for us, second only to Mother’s Day,” said Janelle Teng, one of the restaurant’s owners. “So we feed a lot of families. Our dine-in is of course down a little bit this year, but our to-go’s are certainly making up for it.”

The restaurant filled 250 to-go orders on Christmas Eve, and they expect to do just as many or more on Christmas Day.

“We are very, very fortunate,” Teng said. “I think that we are luckier than most.”

According to the Texas Restaurant Association, more than 10,000 restaurants across the state have shut down for good because of the impact of the pandemic.

Back in the spring, Teng couldn’t have envisioned her restaurant would look like this come December.

“It was a little frightening to close the doors and to lay off half of my staff,” she said. “The front of the house staff was laid off for two full months, and it was gut wrenching to write those final checks.”

Overall sales are down from this time last year by about 40%, but the restaurant has been able to bring back all their employees.

Teng credits Jeng Chi’s 30 years in the community and their loyal customers.

“Having reduced capacity, you want to support local people – not just the take out but also dining in safely,” said Drew Schweizer, who comes to Jeng Chi on Christmas with his family every year.

Customers and staff say they’re grateful to be able to uphold a holiday tradition in a year unlike any other.


Caroline Vandergriff