DALLAS — Ming Place China Bistro has been a staple on the corner of Inwood Road and Lemmon Avenue in Dallas for nearly 10 years.

Grace Zhao, the owner, said business has been great over the last decade, but the last few weeks have been tough. After COVID-19 and coronavirus made headlines, Zhao said she saw a 50% drop in customers.

"Very suddenly. I think people are scared. They don't want to come out," she said.

On Wednesday at noon, her restaurant only had four tables filled. During a normal lunch hour, it would be packed. Zhao said many other Asian-owned restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are also suffering. 

"Chinatown, Richardson, Plano, some Chinese restaurants and Chinese markets, the business dropped off a lot," Zhao said.

For now, Zhao is grateful for her regular customers who continue to come back during the COVID-19 scare.

"Obviously, I'm here. If I was worried, I wouldn't be here," said Seth Smith, a customer. "It makes me sad for her." 

Zhao wants to reassure people that all her ingredients are locally sourced from the United States. "My food does not come from China," she said.

Grace doesn't want people to be scared of her culture or the color of her skin.

She proudly immigrated to America in 1999 and opened her restaurant with her grandmother's traditional Chinese recipes. She wants to continue to share this with people in North Texas.

Other Chinese restaurants told WFAA their sales have dropped as well. Some said 20%, while others said more. 

One restaurant temporarily laid off staff to stay in business.

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