ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Lunar New Year is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit. As retailers roll out food and decorations to mark the special day, a Rochester couple is taking the time to celebrate with their business.
Asian food markets ring in the Chinese New Year.
“It’s like Christmas when you come home,” said Ling Ren, owner of the Asian food market. “So everyone needs to go home and then come together to form a big family. If you have 10 brothers, 10 sisters, everyone is a family. So we have the traditional Chinese New Year, eat together, and play together.”
Retailers rolled out red lanterns and red envelopes for the Year of the Rabbit.
“It’s especially good luck for the kids, they give red envelopes,” said Rockey Ren, owner of the Asian food market. “good luck [and] I wish the person with the red envelope good health. “
Owners Rockey and Ling Ren opened the first Asian food market in the Rochester area in 2007. They quickly expanded to several locations in upstate New York, such as Buffalo, Syracuse, and Ithaca.
“I’ve been here for almost thirty years.” Ling Ren said. “When I came, not many supermarkets had fresh seafood. I grew up by the sea, so I needed to eat seafood. So my specialty was running live seafood markets. That’s why we opened.”
The couple felt a lack of Asian food, which is a big part of their culture, and decided to create their own.
“We tried to find a bigger Chinese restaurant, but we couldn’t find it anywhere near here,” Rocky Ren said. “My wife and I decided why not open an Asian grocery store here. The other thing is we want to better serve the Asian community here.”
They offer a variety of food options.
“Peking duck is a traditional food in China, everyone has it at home, if my neighbors need it,” Ling Ren said. “And then we have a whole pig roast, which is very traditional because not many people do that in the Rochester area, and when you go to restaurants, not many people can have it.”
They also distribute food items from all Asian communities.
“We have to serve the community better and provide better choices to the Asian American community because we have the ability to offer more and serve them better,” said Rockey Ren.
They hope to provide not only a taste of Asian cuisine, but also a sense of culture.
“Support the Asian community, because the Asian community is still small,” Ling said. “We need to get bigger.”
If they’re serving customers on the busiest weekend of the year, they still like to remind everyone of a happy new year.