Shortstop Deli and the Asian American Association Work Together to Support Local Ithaca Community

  • 10:55 PM ET - 11/13/2021

    Shortstop Deli owner Chung Dong along with the Asian American Association of Ithaca have joined together to support the Asian communities in Ithaca after the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • 11:39 PM ET - 11/13/2021

    Chuck Dong became the owner of Shortstop Deli in 2015, after originally working there as a teenager throughout High School. After 20 years as the owner, Dong is still grateful to his previous bosses Albert and Sydney Smith. The Smiths owned the deli for 37 years before delaying their retirement to ensure that Chuck Dong would take over instead of an outside buyer.

  • 11:52 PM ET - 11/13/2021

    During the pandemic, Chuck Dong says schools made the right decision to send students home to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but also acknowledges how local businesses including his own suffered from a lack of college students being in the area.

  • 03:12 AM ET - 11/14/2021

    Due to the absence of many regular customers, Chuck says he knows of many local businesses that had to close down because of the effects of the pandemic. Luckily, Chuck says he received an overwhelming and heartfelt response from the community that is part of the reason why Shortstop Deli is still open today.

  • 03:32 AM ET - 11/14/2021

    Chuck Dong joined the Ithaca chapter of the Asian American Association as Treasurer when it was founded in 1997 by Amy Kuo. Together Kuo and Dong contributed to developing the “Virus Has No Nationality” slogan, created in response to a rise in anti-Asian American sentiment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The slogan is displayed both inside and out of Shortstop Deli.

  • 03:50 AM ET - 11/14/2021

    Growing up in a predominately white city like Ithaca, Chuck Dong always felt like he wanted to have a better sense of community. He credits the Greater Ithaca Activities Center for being a great support system throughout his life, in addition to the Asian American Association.

  • 03:55 AM ET - 11/14/2021

    Today, Shortstop Deli is known for their sub-sandwiches and Hot-Truck Pizza Sub. The deli has even been featured on the Food Network and Serious Eats. Dong says the deli is still not in a place where he would like it to be in terms of success, but hopes with the continued support of the Ithaca community that it can thrive even more in the future.

  • 10:29 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    To learn more about IAAA, their mission and what they stand for as well as the work that they have done, check out their website here:

    ithacaasian.org
  • 10:30 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    As Kuo-Somchahmavong continues to work with Cornell and the Asian American community and organizations, she hopes that IC will do the same. She wishes for all to be “…familiar with each other, knowing each other exists and just being connected…”

  • 10:30 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    “The [local and small businesses] had to go under…and people lost jobs because there are no jobs…” Kuo- Somchahmavong suggested that all three universities should have conversations on supporting local businesses, as we are all codependent on each other.

  • 10:30 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    Just like Dong, Kuo-Somchahmavong emphasized how even though it has affected the Asian-American Community, it has also negatively affected local and small businesses.

  • 10:30 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    “We know it’s historically motivated [based on] the system of racism that has been [going on] since the Chinese Exclusion Act… [which was] the US response to Asians coming in, because people do not want Asians to be here.”

  • 10:31 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    With political figures and the media expressing the virus as the “Chinese/China Virus”, there, unfortunately, have been a few incidents on both Cornell’s campus and even locally in Ithaca, where Asian American students and locals, have been spat on, verbally attacked, and overall discriminated against.

  • 10:31 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    Kuo-Somchahmavong, who’s worked profusely with Cornell, wants to extend her resources and aid toward IC, as she continues to help students of color and Asian American students in finding safe spaces for them, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic really heightened the Asian American Community in Ithaca, in regards to racism and discrimination.

  • 10:31 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    Kuo-Somchahmavong expressed how back in the late 1970s to early 1980s, Ithaca has been one of the largest cities where Southeast Asian Americans relocate and settle. “My husband’s family was the first Laotian family to resettle in this area… as refugees.” Because of the Vietnam War, there was already a community of people who came from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and more.

  • 10:31 PM ET - 11/14/2021
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    Co-Founder of the 1997 organization, Ithaca Asian American Association (IAAA), Amy Kuo-Somchahmavong, her husband Sivilay Somchahmavong, and Shortstop Deli Owner, Chuck Dong, have been running the organization for many years. Even though she doesn’t claim for it to be a formalized organization, she recognizes it more as “a space for people to come together” with a community that “…identifies oneself as Asian, Asian American, or Asian Pacific Islander.”