Hong Kong’s famous Jumbo floating restaurant has been towed away from the Southern District spot it has occupied for the past 46 years, after plans to revitalise the structure fell through.
Under heavy clouds, crowds of local residents gathered on Tuesday morning — some on speedboats and sampans — to watch as the iconic restaurant flotilla was slowly removed from Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter by tugboats, guided by Marine Department vessels.
The restaurant’s parent company Jumbo Kingdom has reportedly suffered accumulated deficits of over HK$100 million since 2013, and had failed to secure a new operator for the premises after Covid restrictions saw the restaurant close in 2020 and all staff were laid off. There have been reports in local media that the Jumbo fleet is on its way to Southeast Asia to undergo maintenance, and potentially re-open in a new location. The company has not disclosed further details on these reports, allegedly to avoid ‘disturbance’ at the new site.
The sprawling 4,200-square-metre floating restaurant was opened by late Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho in 1976. Designed to emulate a Chinese imperial palace in Aberdeen Harbour, the venue has long been cherished as an iconic city landmark. Decorated in green and red, its gigantic neon sign read “foon ying gwong lam,” Chinese for “welcome.”
The restaurant has fed Cantonese seafood to guests including Queen Elizabeth II, Tom Cruise and Chow Yun Fat, according to its website. In total, an estimated 30 million visitors have passed through its doors since 1976.
In 2020, the owner of Jumbo agreed to donate the floating restaurant to Ocean Park, a popular theme park near Aberdeen. Soon afterwards, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam made promises to revitalise Jumbo Floating Restaurant as part of her plan to “invigorate” the Island South district.
However, when no operator came forward to take on the restaurant’s operations, the parent company instead decided to move the structure out of Hong Kong after its license expired last month.
“Throughout this journey, it has been a great honor for us to share beautiful collective memories with local and foreign visitors” — Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited
A 30-metre kitchen barge connected to Jumbo capsized on June 1, just two days after Jumbo Kingdom announced its plans to remove the restaurant from Hong Kong. There were no injuries, but the incident prompted calls from lawmakers for the government to step in and save the landmark, calling it “a collective memory for Hongkongers.”
However, Lam stated last month the government would not intervene if stakeholders couldn’t find a solution for the proposed revitalisation project.
In a statement released after the restaurant was removed, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited, the company that owns and operates Jumbo Kingdom, said: “Jumbo Floating Restaurant has left Hong Kong today. A unique icon for residents and tourists alike, Jumbo Floating Restaurant has stood proud in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island for the past 46 years. Throughout this journey, it has been a great honor for us to share beautiful collective memories with local and foreign visitors.
“We sincerely thank you all for your love and care. We take this opportunity to send you our best wishes for a brighter future,” the statement said.