By Rachel Holt

BOSTON (CBS) – “The Chinese New Year, typically all the restaurants would be super packed. We used to have reservations for tables of six, seven, eight- large parties,” said Billy Gu, Owner and GM of Q Restaurant at 660 Washington Street.

Pre-pandemic, the Lunar New Year would have meant big business for Gu’s restaurant. This year, the streets of Chinatown are quiet, as they were for most of 2020. Gu said, “We’re just a little sad that it’s the Chinese New Year plus Valentine’s Weekend. We’re expecting much more crowded streets.”

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Ben Hires is the CEO of Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Echoing Gu’s sentiment on how the year has been hard on local businesses, Hires said, “We’re so close to the Financial District there’s the lack of workers coming in. There is no events at the Theater District and things like that. So it’s been really tough.”

For the most part, Lunar New Year Celebrations have moved online as many are opting to stay home. Hires said, “Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center is actually doing a virtual Lion Dance workshop for families so we’re still finding ways to celebrate.”

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“A lot of the Asian families are very cautious because they have elderly in their house. But we do get a large number of takeout (orders), I assume people are celebrating at home,” said Gu.

Typically one of the highlights of the holiday in Chinatown is the Chinese New Year Parade, which brings large crowds and business to the area. But there’s hope the Year of the Ox means better days are ahead.

“I do believe that it’s going to be a strong year, a strong rebound. I truly hope so. That’s why we work so hard and try to build our customer base,” said Gu.

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“We’re really excited to celebrate the year of the Ox, which represents strength and posterity and we’re looking forward to hopefully seeming some of that in 2021,” Hires said.

Rachel Holt