NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn restaurant that has been dealing with delays and problems on top of the rise in COVID-19 cases is pivoting to enable its survival.

After months of setbacks, the owner decided to take a new approach, CBS2’s Leah Mishkin reported Monday.

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Brooklyn native Calvin Eng said opening a Cantonese-American restaurant has been his goal for a while. He took the plunge roughly 10 months ago and signed a lease in Williamsburg. His first day of service was Dec. 3.

Bonnie’s was supposed to open this summer, but inspections, waiting for gas, and the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused delays.

“I had to park probably like three houses down because I couldn’t drive any further,” Eng said, adding when asked if there was flooding in the restaurant, “No, only our basement, fortunately.”


On Friday, he was going to celebrate two weeks of service. But two hours before opening, plans changed. His team decided to move to an all-takeout model, instead of dine-in with proof of vaccination.

“What made you make that call to say, ‘OK, you know what? Now is the moment. Let’s just stop and go to takeout?'” Mishkin said.

“Honestly, it was all the management team putting our brains together. It was just too risky. We know too many people who are boosted who were testing positive,” Eng said.

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Chef Eng said the restaurant was never supposed to be a takeout place. It wasn’t on any delivery sites and didn’t have a pickup option on its website. So it used what it had — social media.

“I was taking orders through Instagram DMs. My GM was calling all the reservations to cancel them. My sous chef was getting all the cooks ready, getting all the takeout boxes ready,” Eng said.


The 27-year-old said through all the challenges he keeps reminding himself of why he wanted to open in the first place.

“To educate people on Cantonese food and to be part of the evolution of Cantonese food here in America,” Eng said. “Bonnie is my mom’s name, that was given to her when she immigrated here from Hong Kong. Everything I know about Cantonese food I learned from her.”

Chef Eng said the restaurant is going to monitor COVID case numbers to see how to move forward. He doesn’t anticipate opening in-house dining until after Christmas.

Starting next week, diners 12 and older will have to show proof they received two vaccine doses or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. The New York City mandate will expand even further at the end of January to include children ages 5-11.

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CBS2’s Leah Mishkin contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team