Kalamazoo area restaurant owner shares his vaccine experience

Texas Corners, MI, restauranteur Jim Chiang shares his experience owning a restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Michigan Vaccine Project (MVP) works to provide people with trusted, evidence-based vaccination information so that everyone can make informed healthcare decisions for themselves. One of the ways MVP does this is through its podcast “An Ounce of Prevention” where healthcare professionals and everyday Michiganders gather to tell their vaccination stories.

The podcast recently featured Jim Chang, the owner of the restaurant Hunan Garden in Texas Corners, MI. Jim opened Hunan Garden in 1992. During the interview, Jim reflected on his experience as a business owner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights from the interview can be found below.

Can you tell me what you enjoy most about your job?

I get to see a lot of different customers, then we can talk about their life or our life. Everybody who comes in is like family or friends.

When the COVID-19 virus started becoming an issue, how did that affect your interactions with customers?

Well, we definitely got a shock from this virus. When they shut down our dining, we could only do to-go. Then we had a lot to think about. So, we created a lot of to-go business, and then the customer felt more comfortable coming to our restaurant.

Once the vaccine rolled out, how did that affect the business and the community?

A lot of the older generation told me they got the vaccine. Most of our employees got the vaccine and then followed the direction to get a second and third. Even right now, I got the new updated one. The more protection we can get, the more we can protect the customer in here too. So, we just don’t know what is the best, but if we can protect ourselves and our family, and the customer here, why not?

Now that the vaccine has been out for about two years, how have you noticed that the dine-in experience is different for customers?

Definitely dining in is coming back quite a bit, the customers feel more comfortable.

What challenges still remain from the pandemic?

Definitely staffing. Our staff is limited right now. So sometimes we cannot fully service customers, but I hope the customer will be patient, going to any restaurant, and more understanding. I really want to keep our customers healthy and safe. We hope to see you guys soon.

To learn more about the Michigan Vaccine Project and vaccine information, including COVID-19, visit extension.msu.edu/learnaboutvaccines.

Interview responses in this article were edited for clarity and readability. 

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