OU’s Asian American Student Association will host a benefit night and food fair featuring local Asian restaurants affected by COVID-19.
The association’s benefit night will be held at Mr. Sushi, offering takeout and curbside delivery services to attendees. A portion of the revenue will go toward helping the restaurant to bring in additional funds.
The Asian Food Fair typically sponsors various local restaurants and allows students to pay $5 to enjoy dishes from each establishment in a buffet-style setup. My Lam, a chemical engineering senior and the event’s chair, said the association had to change the format of their fair to accommodate people during the pandemic.
“Because of a lot of COVID-19 restrictions, we weren’t able to enjoy the original format of our fair,” Lam said. “We decided to pivot over to a benefit night because we wanted to focus on what the point of the fair was, which is to help our local community.”
Lam said Asian establishments face increased impacts during the pandemic given the nature of COVID-19 and racism against Asian Americans. She cited the example of Sooner Dairy Lunch, whose voicemail, according to a recent Twitter post, said people should “blame the Chinese” for their temporary closure after a family member tested positive.
“A lot of people are scared to go out to Asian restaurants just because they don’t know, and a lot of people are already scared to go to restaurants in general,” Lam said. “The only thing we were giving these restaurants in exchange with the previous format was a spot on our flyer, which was not enough.”
Although Mr. Sushi’s owner Jim Chang said his business has not suffered immensely during the pandemic, he said he found challenges in adapting the dining environment of his restaurant.
“We were able to adapt to online orders and third party delivery quick enough to not suffer too much, but not being able to have the dining environment does affect our setting,” Chang said. “Most guests want to have a sit-down experience, but now the best they can do is have their sushi in a styrofoam box in their car. That kind of kills the idea.”
Chang said this benefit night should be a win-win situation.
“I am more than happy to sponsor them through this event,” Chang said. “In turn, (I hope) they will help other people know our name. It’s a mutual benefit.”
The benefit night will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at 1204 N. Interstate Drive, Suite 130, in Norman. To ensure money from purchases go toward Mr. Sushi and the Asian American Student Association, Lam said to mention “AASA” while purchasing food.
“Outside of our events and benefit nights, these restaurants still need additional support and revenue,” Lam said. “I think that if you feel safe going to a restaurant and you really like it, tell your friends about it and encourage them to support the business.”