Hong Kong's Iconic Floating Restaurant Has Been Towed to an Undisclosed Location

Jumbo Kingdom shut down in March 2020 after 44 years of serving everyone from locals to tourists to visiting royalty.

Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong, China
Photo: Getty Images

In early March 2020, Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurant posted a short message on its social media accounts. "Due to the impact of the current situation, Jumbo Kingdom will suspend its services from March 3rd until further notice," it wrote.

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant — which, together with the neighboring Tai Pak floating restaurant, have been known as Jumbo Kingdom — never reopened. And, earlier this week, tugboats arrived in Hong Kong's Aberdeen Harbor to tow it away to an as-yet-unidentified location. According to the South China Morning Post, the public relations agency that manages the restaurant declined to reveal where the restaurant was being transported.

"It has been a great honor for us to share beautiful, collective memories with local and foreign visitors," the Brunswick Group said in a statement. "We sincerely thank you for all your love and care."

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant has been a Hong Kong landmark since 1976, when it was opened by billionaire gambling tycoon Stanley Ho. The South China Morning Post says that the renovations and furnishings that filled the almost 250-foot long, 45,000 square foot space cost more than HK$30 million ($3.87 million).

Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong, China
Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

The restaurant could seat around 2,300 diners when it was at full capacity, and some of its high profile visitors have included Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter, Tom Cruise, Pele, and Chow Yun-fat. (And in the pandemic-themed movie Contagion, Gwyneth Paltrow has a meal at the restaurant, which was used for the film's casino scenes.)

Over the past 40 years, the Jumbo also became a must-do for first-time visitors to Hong Kong. "Yes, it's very touristy, but if you enjoy a bit of flamboyance with your sightseeing, then pass the hoisin sauce," AFAR wrote in its Travel Guide to Hong Kong, praising its "especially dazzling" Imperial design. Lonely Planet also mentioned the two Jumbo Kingdom restaurants, describing them as "so kitsch they're fun."

Since it closed in early 2020, the restaurant accumulated an estimated HK$100 million ($12.7 million) in operating and maintenance costs. The company that owned Jumbo Kingdom, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, reported that it had approached "more than a dozen companies and organizations" about giving them the restaurant, but everyone declined, mostly due to the cost of, ahem, keeping it afloat.

Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong, China
Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Some longtime Hong Kong residents gathered in the harbor to watch as the restaurant was slowly towed away. "I really can't bear to let it go. I think it is a great loss to Hong Kong," a man identified only as Lai told the South China Morning Post. "It is a symbol of Hong Kong."

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