One of Chinatown’s oldest businesses, Fong Inn Too, shuttered over the weekend after 82 years in business. It was thought to be the oldest family-run tofu shop in the country. Opened in 1933 by a Guangzhou immigrant, Geu Yee Eng, the Mott Street shop grew into a factory churning out about 10,000 squares of tofu per day. Still, in 2011, third-generation owner David Eng told WNYC that business was “terribly slow,” and lamented that the family’s fourth generation had no interest in taking it over.
According to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, the Engs tried to soldier on, but ended up selling the building. “The neighborhood has changed a lot,” David’s brother, Paul, said of Chinatown’s Chinese population. “When I was a kid this was all hustle bustle. Now it’s so quiet. No one lives here anymore.”
On Sunday, photographer Nick McManus was invited for one last helping of tofu noodles by Kim Turim, an East Village resident and Fong Inn Too customer of 30 years. Turim’s son, Rainer, ended up being the last customer before Nick took this group portrait of David, Paul and Monty Eng with their mother (center) and other family members.
“When David locked the front doors for the last time at 3pm he gave an impromptu speech that thanked his last customers,” Nick told us. “Fong Inn Too had also sold out of everything they had and David apologized to the those that he had to turn away.”