WORCESTER – When Jeri Steele of Rutland heard on her car radio Thursday morning that people were staying away from Chinese restaurants out of fear of catching the deadly coronavirus, she was shocked.
“I was very upset to hear about this. I said I’m going to go have lunch in protest and to support the business,” Steele said Thursday as she sat eating cumin-flavored lamb with chili sauce and rice at Red Pepper restaurant in Webster Square for the first time, Her chiropractor, a Chinese-American doctor, had recommended Red Pepper.
As Steele, a nurse practitioner and an acupuncturist in Barre, enjoyed her meal, the restaurant was noticeably empty. She said she had not seen any patrons in the hour she had been there. Two waitresses hung out near the entrance to the dining area.
“Something is going on,” Steele said. “People just need to be educated. They have to put things in perspective.”
Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Westboro-based Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said in a statement this week that Chinese and Chinese-American restaurants in Massachusetts