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Beijing restaurants try takeouts and set meals as new outbreak hits trade

By Zhang Linwan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-14 07:25
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Restaurant workers attend to a customer at a stall outside their premises in Beijing on May 9. [Photo/Agencies]

Catering businesses in Beijing are seeking a way out to weather the current COVID-19 outbreak. Since May 1, all restaurants have been requested to suspend dine-in services and offer takeouts instead.

Facing operational pressures, catering businesses are sparing no efforts to boost their takeout business and recoup losses.

Quanjude, a time-honored restaurant known for its Peking roast duck, began to serve boxed lunches at affordable prices. Meanwhile some outlets of hotpot chain Haidilao turned to selling pre-prepared dishes, snacks and even vegetables.

"We post menus in WeChat groups every day before lunchtime, so that office workers nearby can order online in advance and pick up the food during their break," said a staff member from Quanjude.

A Beijing deliveryman uses his smartphone to handle takeout orders on May 8. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Some restaurants that had no plans for takeout business have had to set foot in the new area, hoping the move will help to balance the books from overhead costs such as rent and labor.

Data from online food delivery platform Meituan showed that from April 30 to May 10, more than 2,300 restaurants had registered for takeout services via its "green channel".

Among them is Pangmei Noodle, a restaurant in the city's downtown area of Sanlitun.

"We were too busy to offer takeouts before, but I must make a change during this special period considering my 70 employees," said Du Beibei, owner of the restaurant. The restaurant can now receive more than 100 orders every day, which helps to cut losses, Du added.

Leading catering groups have also launched new takeout products to attract customers.

Fengmao Barbecue, for example, provides not only cooked food but smokeless ovens and fresh meat skewers, enabling people to have a similar dining experience at home.

A rider on the way to deliver food in Beijing on May 1. [Photo by Fu Ding/For China Daily]

Huda Restaurant is a preferred option for many Beijing residents when they crave spicy crayfish in the summer. The restaurant launched an elaborate food package earlier this month, which includes braised dishes, salad, coconut juice and spicy crayfish with the words "cheering for Beijing" engraved on the shells.

Some fine-dining establishments, which focus on high-end ingredients and quality services, have risen to the challenge with in-home chef services and customized meals.

Since April 22, Beijing has reported more than 900 infections across 15 of its 16 districts.

The city government revealed new policies on May 8 to help relieve the financial burden of industries being hit by the pandemic.

Companies across five sectors-including catering, retail and tourism-are allowed to delay payments to their employees' insurance on pensions, unemployment and work-related injuries, according to the policy.

Residents walk their dogs past a food stall set up outside a restaurant in Beijing on May 11. [Photo provided to China Daily]
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