Hong Kong Jumbo Floating Restaurant towed away after 46 years

It has lost tens of millions of dollars over the past decade.

Belmont Lay | June 15, 2022, 12:59 PM

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Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant was towed out to sea for good on June 14, years after its business continued on unprofitably even before the pandemic struck.

Onlookers at the Aberdeen waterfront gathered to watch the eatery on water get dragged away, AFP reported.

Towed away

It was towed out to sea shortly before noon from the southern Hong Kong Island typhoon shelter after nearly half a century.

Restaurant owner Melco International Development announced in May 2022 -- a month before its licence expiration in June -- Jumbo would leave Hong Kong.

Its next destination and new operator were not disclosed, South China Morning Post reported.

As Jumbo left Hong Kong, boats sounded their horns in tribute to the legendary eatery.

Losing money

Melco said the business had not been profitable since 2013 and cumulative losses had exceeded HK$100 million (S$17.7 million).

Maintenance fees each year ran into the millions and around a dozen businesses and organisations even declined an invitation to take it over at no charge.

The Covid-19 pandemic was fingered as the reason for finally closing its doors in March 2020.

Popularity declined

The 76m famous ageing tourist attraction could house 2,300 diners.

It was opened in 1976 by the late casino tycoon Stanley Ho, reportedly costing more than HK$30 million (S$5.3 million) to build.

Its aesthetics was from that era, the boom years, and tourists kept the place afloat.

Its "dragon throne" was designed in the style of the Ming dynasty.

Designed like a Chinese imperial palace, it was a must-see landmark.

At its prime, Jumbo was visited by celebrities and was featured in multiple Cantonese and Hollywood films.

In the 1980s, Jumbo's operators acquired its biggest competitor, Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, to put an end to fierce competition.

But it failed to make itself relevant in later years.

Falling apart

On June 1, Jumbo's kitchen boat capsized into the water after a suspected hull breach, tilting almost 90 degrees.

The derelict kitchen boat will be left behind, according to local media.

In her 2020 policy address, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced plans to turn the restaurant over to local theme park Ocean Park for revitalisation.

The project did not materialise as the park said it could not find a suitable operator.

Jumbo's exit occurred just days before Lam is set to leave office.

Top photos via @jonnnnyw & @ayanchiu