Selling Fresh Produce
The China Cuisine Association said in a report this month that the country’s restaurant industry saw 4.67 trillion yuan ($665 billion) in catering revenue last year, with earnings over the Lunar New Year break making up over 15 percent.
With millions of people staying indoors during the festival this year, those holiday earnings have evaporated.
Some, including hotpot chain Haidilao — which has temporarily closed its mainland China outlets — have turned to selling fresh and frozen products directly to communities.
In Yunhaiyao, a chain specializing in Yunnan cuisine, restaurant tables are piled with fresh vegetables instead of cooked dishes — ready to be packed and delivered to housing compounds.
Yunhaiyao, which has more than 100 outlets in China, now bulk-buys groceries for residents near its stores as a new income stream.
It has also rolled out a fresh line of prepared ingredients so customers can quickly whip up Yunnan specialties while cooped up at home.
Zhao Yebule, store manager at Yunhaiyao’s Tongzhou branch in Beijing, said deliveries can rake in up to 6,000 yuan daily.
But the company is still in a pinch.
Li Jianying, a regional manager overseeing 10 outlets, said only around half of his staff were ready to resume work.
Others cannot leave their residential compounds freely or face a 14-day quarantine when they return to Beijing.
“Our sales are just about 10 percent that of regular times before the epidemic,” with delivery sales falling by half, he added.
Yunhaiyao remains worried about expenses such as rent, and has taken a 10 million yuan loan to ease cashflow pressures.
Li, however, stressed there were no plans to cut staff for now.