Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, New Town Bakery and Restaurant is always bustling with customers, but business came to a standstill last summer when the local favourite was transformed into a movie set.
Co-owner Susanna Ng said she was approached by a producer who was scouting out the area back in June 2018 for the Netflix romantic comedy “Always Be My Maybe.”
“Someone came and asked if I want to give this place for them to shoot a movie for one day. I usually turn them away, but later on he mentioned Ali Wong,” Ng told CTV News in an interview.
The film, starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, tells the story of Sasha Tran (Wong) and Marcus Kim (Park), who first dated as teenagers. The pair wind up returning to one of their favorite childhood eateries, called "Best Luck Dim Sum", which was shot at New Town Bakery.
And while the story takes place in San Francisco, many of the scenes were shot in Vancouver.
Ng and her husband opened New Town in May 1980; since then, it’s become a fixture of East Pender, well-known for its homemade steam buns. The couple said they have been approached by movie producers countless times over the years, but it was Wong’s involvement that finally persuaded them.
Ng noted there are few female, Asian comedians out there, and it was important to support her.
“She’s really friendly, very friendly,” said the bakery’s co-owner. “After the filming we asked her to take a picture, no problem. She even showed me how to pose you know. That will make you look sexy.”
Ng initially rejected the offer to rent the space, but agreed after the producer offered to pay a day’s worth of sales.
“What I need is one extra day off, not really for the money. I thought I would take the day off and also my staff, but it turned out not that way.”
That’s because they were needed for filming.
Ng and 10 of her staff members made the dim sum that appears in the scene. Several of the servers even had speaking roles.
“It has to be very quiet once they start to film it. It’s very eye opening,” said server Tana Yu. “It’s really exciting and we were really happy to be a part of it.”
The scene is only a few minutes long, but took dozens of takes to get.
“Each one of them ate at least one item each time, so it was over 20 pieces. I’m sure they got stuffed with dim sum afterward,” said Yu.
Yu said their regulars were initially disappointed that the restaurant was closed for the day, but were excited to see their favourite eatery on the big screen.
“We really like to show our oriental traditions,” she said, “showing to outside people how Chinatown, Vancouver looks like. “
Staff members hope “Always Be My Maybe” becomes a hit among Netflix subscribers, so they can have the chance to star in a sequel.