By Ethnic Seattle and Ethnic Business Coalition Staff
If you come to the Seattle Chinatown–International District and pass by South Jackson Street, you will likely see a small cafe with huge steam buns in a warming case at the window. The only other sign that you will see is a humble sandwich board on the sidewalk that says, “MAXANG DELI OPEN.” Tony Yu is the owner and has been running the deli at the same spot for over 25 years. He emigrated from southern China in search for a better life. Not knowing much English, the deli gives Tony the means to provide for his family.
Over the years, Maxang Deli has developed a regular customer base. Many come here for his barbeque pork in skewers, sumptuous fried chicken in substantial portions, and a few other neighborhood favorites at affordable prices. However, the rising costs of living in Seattle has crimped Tony’s business margin. He works long hours but there is little excess beyond making ends meet. As a result, Maxang Deli’s interior began to show its age and hurt the business.
When Ethnic Business Coalition (EBC) learned of Tony’s challenge during its outreach effort, the staff offered the deli a small grant through the Tenant Improvement Program funded by the City of Seattle. The program has helped various small businesses located in economically stressed neighborhoods to improve signage, interior environment, sanitation, and fire safety. After evaluating the needs and the budget, Maxang Deli received a face lift. The biggest challenge of the project was coordinating the time with the remodeling crew to ensure less impact on the business. The final outcome: interior walls are now covered with light color, durable, easy to clean wall panels.
Owner Tony Yu says, “This helps us a lot!”