After wowing tourists with its grand imperial palace-like design for almost 50 years, the world’s largest floating restaurant is on its way out due to financial difficulties, per South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Although no date has been set, the restaurant’s parent company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, said last month that the tourist attraction would be looking for a new home outside the city in June, per the outlet.
It’s sad news for Hong Kong residents and foreigners alike, many of whom have viewed the extravagant restaurant as a must-see spot ever since it was opened by the late Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho in 1976.
More than just the food it served — mostly seafood and refined Cantonese cuisine — the eatery was also a novelty for the many tourists who simply enjoyed the journey by a ferry shuttle to get there in the first place.
Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises and Jumbo Floating Restaurant did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
With more than 45,000 square feet of space over three floors, the 76 meter-long (246 feet) restaurant could seat 2,300 diners, per SCMP. Its banquet halls could host everything from corporate dinners to weddings.
According to the menu on the restaurant’s website, guests could order traditional Cantonese dishes such as roasted suckling pig (HK$230) and double-boiled bird’s nest with coconut milk (HK$388). 
For tourists, however, it was the live seafood section that was a big draw. At the aquarium-like place, located on an attached barge, visitors could personally pick out more than 60 types of fresh seafood for their meals, including crabs, lobster, and a wide variety of fish, per China News.
 
 
According to a 2020 SCMP article, construction work in the seventies cost upwards of HK$30 million ($3.8 million). In comparison, renovations for a 500-square-foot flat in a busy part of town would have cost HK$10,000 at the time, per the outlet.
Besides the traditional Chinese elements such as the dragon and pagoda motifs running throughout, a large HK$6 million mural on the restaurant’s second floor proved to be a hit, the outlet reported. The mural was inspired by a Ming Dynasty Chinese painting and painted by an Italian artist, the outlet said, though it did not specify the name of the artist. 
Another big attraction in the restaurant was the dragon throne in the main banquet hall, which included dragon designs that took sculptors two years to carve, per Hong Kong online news outlet HK01.
Jumbo Floating Restaurant has hosted more than 30 million visitors, including international celebrities like Queen Elizabeth II and movie stars such as Tom Cruise and Chow Yun Fat, according to its website.
The restaurant has also served as a film set for movies including the James Bond movie “The Man With The Golden Gun” and “The World of Suzie Wong,” per HK01.
Stephen Chow’s classic Cantonese comedy flick “The God of Cookery” was also shot onboard, including a crucial cooking competition scene, per Taiwan news outlet TVBS.
According to SCMP, the restaurant has reported an accumulated loss in excess of HK$100 million ($12.74 million) after Covid outbreaks stopped tourists from coming. 
But the restaurant’s financial troubles preceded the pandemic: Prior to the pandemic, the local travel and food and beverage industries were already negatively impacted by the city’s social unrest, the outlet reported. 
And though the restaurant was completely closed for two years, the company said it still had to spend millions of Hong Kong dollars annually to cover inspection and maintenance works, per SCMP.
Such costs have become “a heavy financial burden for the company and its shareholders in the current economic environment,” the company said, per the outlet. “We do not foresee that [Jumbo] can resume business in the immediate future.”
The restaurant’s woes were exacerbated last week when its kitchen barge — a separate vessel behind the boat — capsized, per Hong Kong newspaper Am730. Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause behind the 30 meter-long (98.4 feet) vessel tilting by nearly 90 degrees, per the outlet. No one was hurt, the outlet reported.
Several Hong Kong lawmakers have voiced their hopes for the government to do more to help save the business, SCMP reported.
“If the government sees its value, it should step in to take over this boat,” Lo Kin-hei of the opposition Democratic Party said last week, per the outlet. 
Hong Kong’s lawmaker for tourism, Perry Yiu, said he hoped the government would give the restaurant operator some time to find a “white knight,” SCMP reported in another article.
Meanwhile, fans of the restaurant have paid tribute to the restaurant via their art. 
Surrealist artist Tommy Fung, for example, shared an image on Instagram of the restaurant sinking, with half of its vessel body submerged. The photo has been liked more than 14,000 times as of publish time.
Illustrator Felix Ip re-imagined the restaurant as a massive robot in an Instagram post. “Goodbye Jumbo!” he captioned. 
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