Mr Chan said there was a 95 per cent likelihood the restaurant, located at 131 Little Bourke Street, will not reopen.
He pleaded with the public to support its sister restaurant, the Shark Fin Inn, which is also threatened with closure after 38 years in business.
‘‘We calculated that we cannot survive if we open both [restaurants],’’ he said.
‘‘So we decided to close one down and make the other one survive.’’
Mr Chan said the Shark Fin Inn, at 50 Little Bourke Street, would probably be shuttered if revenue did not pick up in the next one or two months.
He said business at the Inn was down 65 to 70 per cent and the owners may have to appeal to the landlord for help.
‘‘We’ll do everything to try to save the restaurant,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a bad, bad time.’’
Average lunch crowds at the Inn have fallen from 120 to 150 to about 50 or 60, and the 10 permanent staff had been reduced to four, with another 10 casual jobs in doubt.
‘‘It’s very hard,’’ he said. With customer fears of coronavirus still high, ‘‘we can see numbers reducing’’.
However, he vowed to fight to stay open.
“We’re very sad, very unhappy, but we still have to work, so I would tell the people don’t scare, come to the restaurant, support us.
‘‘Hopefully, in two months, we get better result.’’
The struggles in the Shark Fin group are part of a broader fall in business in Chinatown since the first death from coronavirus in China in early January.
Johnson Li, 29, manager of Minh Xuong restaurant on Russell Street for 10 years, said many businesses had been forced to shut down for several weeks and others were closing hours earlier.
“At lunchtime, because we do a quick lunch for the neighbourhood and for office workers around here, we used to get quite full, but now it’s about 70 per cent down,” he said.
“I’ve never seen a year this quiet.”
At a special business and community lunch on Wednesday at Shark Fin Inn, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos called for common sense around the coronavirus situation.
“It is important to keep calm, and carry on with our lives,” she said.
Ms Mikakos said Chinatown and the ‘‘myriad of delicious Chinese restaurants’’ across Melbourne were ‘‘open for business’’.
The minister revealed she and her colleagues visit Shark Fin Inn weekly when Parliament is sitting, and urged Victorians to go out, too.
‘‘We’ve got Valentine’s [Day] coming up in a few days’ time. Bring your loved ones here, have a special dinner here at Shark Fin or one of our wonderful Chinese restaurants across Melbourne, and support our important Chinese businesses.’’
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, said Victorians ‘‘can go about their lives normally’’ and there was no recommendation to constrain activities.
‘‘In fact we’re trying to say exactly the opposite: Feel free to go to Chinese businesses, feel free to go to Chinese restaurants, go to Chinese events, as I did for Chinese New Year.”
Dr Sutton said of the four confirmed coronavirus cases in Victoria, three people had recovered and the fourth person was stable and expected to be discharged this week.
‘‘That effectively means that there is no one we’re aware of in Victoria who can transmit to anyone else.
“That’s why we’ve been very clear that people can go about their lives normally.”
He said the anxiety around ‘‘something exotic and new and in some ways poorly understood’’ was understandable but reports of vitriol and stigmatisation and discrimination towards Chinese people were “absolutely intolerable, and we must condemn it”.
Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.