The Jumbo, Hong Kong’s famous floating restaurant, in financial difficulties and which had left the island last week for an unknown destination, sank in the South China Sea, announced its owner.
The 76-meter floating juggernaut capsized on Sunday near the Paracel Islands after starting to take on water in harsh weather conditions “unfavourable”according to a statement from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based investment firm Melco International Development.
No crew member was injured, however, the company said in a statement issued Monday, saying “very saddened by the incident”. According to the press release, “Ihe water depth at the site exceeded 1,000 meters, making it extremely difficult to undertake salvage operations.”.
Moored in the south of Hong Kong Island for nearly half a century, it had been inspected before setting sail, receiving “all necessary permissions” before his departure last Tuesday, the company adds.
A legendary restaurant
The Jumbo floating restaurant, which appears in numerous Cantonese and Hollywood films, has left town after desperate attempts to revive the iconic venue. Measuring more than 76 meters, it could accommodate up to 2,300 guests.
Designed like a Chinese imperial palace and once considered a must-see, the restaurant has attracted illustrious visitors, from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise. He has featured in several films, including the science thriller Contagion by Steven Soderbergh about a virus that kills some 26 million people around the world.
The operators of this once lavish restaurant cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for its permanent closure in March 2020, after nearly a decade of financial difficulties. Hong Kong-based investment firm Melco International Development, which owns the restaurant, said Jumbo had left the financial center before its license expired in June and found a new operator overseas. His destination was not specified.
“He was for many years a symbol of Hong Kong,” emphasizes this Hong Konger, who still wants to believe that“he will be back”. Opened in 1976 by Stanley Ho, Macau’s king of casinos who died in 2020, the Jumbo represented the height of luxury. According to the daily South China Morning Postit featured a “dragon throne” in the style of the Ming dynasty as well as a sumptuous mural.
The restaurant was moored in Aberdeen Harbour, a favorite spot for seafood eateries. Its popularity with tourists in particular had declined in recent years, even before the Covid pandemic. The restaurant’s operator, Melco International Development, said in May that the establishment had been unprofitable since 2013 and that cumulative losses had topped HK$100 million ($12.7 million). Jumbo’s maintenance costs amounted to millions of dollars each year.