HOUSTON—There was an unexpected site for fans of Yao Restaurant and Bar Downtown Friday night. Would-be patrons were greeted by a chain-locked door and a sign that read “closed due to non-payment of lease.”
“It’s kind of surprising that they’re closed,” said one person.
Another person agreed.
“I’m very surprised. I was coming over to eat today and I saw this,” the patron said.
The restaurant, located in the Houston Pavilions, holds the name of the former Houston Rocket start. Yao Ming used to draw big crowds on the basketball court. But some fans said he couldn’t draw enough of a crowd to the restaurant.
“It’s just that the restaurant was slow,” said Julia Glasgow. “Here in the downtown pavilions, you really have to be making money to make it.”
Clarissa Mendoza said there weren’t enough attractions in the area.
“They need to get some shopping centers downtown so that there’s more business,” said Mendoza.
The closure of the restaurant comes just one month after a team of investors, headed by former NBA great Magic Johnson, acquired the Pavilions. The property had been in receivership since last year.
Ming’s business partner said the former Rocket only loaned his name to the downtown restaurant, but did not own any shares in the business.
The other Yao restaurant on Westheimer is still open and doing well.
Some fans said despite the closure of the downtown location, Yao Ming’s legacy remains secure.
“I don’t even care about the restaurant,” one man said. “I care more about basketball and what he did for the Rockets.”