ROCHESTER, NY – The Lunar New Year celebrates the Year of the Rabbit. While retailers sell food and decorations to commemorate the special day, one Rochester couple is making time to celebrate through their business.
The Asian food market celebrates the Lunar New Year.
“When you come home, it’s like Christmas time,” said Asia Food Market owner Ling Ren. “So all the people have to go back home and then stay together for a big family. If you have 10 brothers, 10 sisters, they are all at home. That’s how we celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year, eat together and then have fun together.”
The merchant has put out red lanterns and red envelopes for the Year of the Rabbit.
“It’s lucky, especially for the kids and they give the red envelope,” said Asia Food Market owner Rockey Ren. “Good luck [and] good health for people with a red envelope.”
Owners Rockey and Ling Ren opened the Rochester area’s first Asian food market in 2007. They soon expanded to several locations in upstate New York in areas such as Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca.
“I’ve been here for almost 30 years,” Ling Ren said. “When I came here, few supermarkets had fresh seafood. I grew up by the ocean so I have to eat seafood. So my main object was to open a live seafood market. That’s why we opened.”
The couple felt a lack of Asian food, a big part of their culture, and decided to create their own.
“We tried to find bigger Chinese food, but we couldn’t find it here,” Rockey Ren said. “My wife and I decided why not just open an Asian grocery store here. The other thing is that we want to serve the Asian community here, that’s better.”
They provide a diverse range of food.
“Peking duck is a traditional Chinese food and it is for everyone’s home or if my neighbors need it,” said Ling Ren. “We still have a whole hog barbecue, it’s very traditional because in the Rochester area, not a lot of people cook that, and when you go to a restaurant, not many people can get that.”
They also distribute food from all Asian communities.
“We have to better serve the community, the Asian community, with better choices because we have the power to serve and get more products and serve them better,” Rockey Ren said.
They hope to not only provide a taste of Asian food, but also a sense of culture.
“Support the Asian community because Asian communities are still small,” said Ling Ren. “We have to get bigger.”
As they cater to customers during the busiest weekend of the year, they still like to remind everyone to have a Happy New Year.