ROCHESTER, N.Y. — With Lunar New Year upon us, the Year of the Rabbit is being celebrated and retailers are rolling out foods and decorations to mark the occasion. One couple in Rochester is taking the time to celebrate through their business, the Asia Food Market.
“It’s like Christmas time when you are coming home,” owner of Asia Food Market Ling Ren said. “So all the people need to come home and then stay together for a big family. If you have 10 brothers, 10 sisters, everybody’s home. So we do traditional Chinese New Year, eat together and then have fun together.”
The store is outfitted with red lanterns and red envelopes for the year of the rabbit. “It’s good luck especially for children and they give the red envelope,” owner of Asia Food Market Rockey Ren said. “Good luck [and] good health for the people with the red envelope.”
The couple opened the first Asia food market location in the Rochester area in 2007 and soon expanded to several locations across upstate New York in areas such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca.
“I have been here for almost 30 years,” Ling Ren said. “When I came here, not many supermarkets had fresh seafood. I grew up by the ocean so I need to eat seafood. So my major was to open a market for live seafood. That’s why we opened.”
They felt there was a lack of Asian foods, a big part of their culture, and decided to create their own. “We tried to find larger Chinese food but we couldn’t find around here,” Rockey Ren said. “And me and my wife decided why don’t we just open an Asian grocery store here. Another thing is that we want to serve the Asian community here that’s better.”
They are providing a variety of food options, such as Peking duck and a barbecue whole pig. They are also distributing foods from all Asian communities.
“We have to serve the community, the Asian community better, with better choices as we have a power to serve and get more products and serve them better,” Rockey Ren said.
They hope to not only provide a taste of Asian foods, but also a sense of the culture. “Support the Asian community because Asian communities are still small,” Ling Ren said. “We need to grow bigger.”
As they supply customers during its busiest weekend of the year, they still like to remind everyone to have a happy New Year.