From Joe’s Shanghai to the Peking Duck Sandwich Stall, the Flushing Meadows neighborhood in Queens, New York is home to the best collection of Chinese restaurants on the East Coast.
Manhattan’s Chinatown might be larger, but Flushing Meadows’ Chinese population cooks better, at least according to Yelpers. It’s become such a thing that the booming Chinese market flying into New York are putting dinner on busy Main Street in Queens right up there with Times Square and Lady Liberty.
Scheduled to open here in March, the strikingly modern Parc Hotel has a few firsts for the area, like a rooftop lounge with a view of Manhattan’s skyline, and an apparently high in-demand dog spa menu. Also expect a strong service culture in an attempt to differentiate the hotel from the many select service brands in the region, ranging from HoJo to Holiday Inn.
“In China, Flushing Meadows is known as the place to go,” asserts Kevin Chang, general manager of The Parc Hotel. He adds that the hotel owners are advertising heavily in China and Taiwan to attract younger Chinese travelers who appreciate modern design as much as traditional dim sum.
“With the Asian community out here, you get some of the best Chinese food in America, everything from Northern China to Southern China cuisine,” says Chang. “And it’s amazing, because being Chinese, I didn’t know there was a huge difference until I came here. So you get to really embrace Chinese culture in Flushing more than anything.”
Nightly rooms rates will start around $159, including WiFi, and the hotel is only 20 minutes via the Long Island Railroad to Midtown Manhattan. Chang expects local and foreign Chinese guests to be among the primary source markets naturally, but he says Flushing is attracting more and more tourists from every market segment who want an unvarnished, un-hipstery view of New York.
As The New York Times wrote in 36 Hours in Queens: ”Remember old New York, where immigrants strived, cultures collided, grit outshined glamour and ethnic restaurants were filled with ethnic crowds, not Instagramming foodies?”
That’s Queens today, and with the surge in popularity, Chang says the restaurant owners are finally picking up their game in terms of service and general restaurant maintenance.
“They’ve really taken on a stronger role in tourism lately because there’s so much demand from overseas,” he explains. “So that’s a huge thing. The World Journal Chinese newspaper is everywhere around here, and it’s getting much more modern too, it’s not so much old school Chinese anymore.”
The exterior and interior design at The Parc is severe and subdued with simple boxy lines, plenty of light in the rooms and public spaces, and a muted color palette. The rooftop lounge and semi-private lobby are bookable for events, which are expected to be popular for creative professionals in the area and family gatherings for visiting Chinese guests.
“When they come to Flushing, overseas Chinese travelers like to be around a comfortable environment,” says Chang. “So they’ll go into the city to shop and see the sights, but then they want to come back where they feel safe, and go to Chinese restaurants and not have a problem ordering. Plus all of our staff is going to be bilingual and from the area, so The Parc is definitely a neighborhood hotel but with a global mindset.”
Greg Oates covers hospitality and tourism trends. He’s toured more than 1,000 hotels in 50+ countries.