Chinese time-honored restaurant brands embrace revival
In recent years, many time-honored restaurant brands in China have seen revitalization through a range of measures to carry forward their traditions while continuing innovation.
Some time-honored restaurants have explored fine traditional Chinese culture while embracing innovative development, according to an official with the Ministry of Commerce. For instance, focusing on traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival, they have rolled out seasonal cuisines that are cooked with traditional techniques or have distinctive cultural features specific to these important holidays.
Xianheng Hotel, a Chinese time-honored restaurant located in Shaoxing, a city known for rice wine production in east China's Zhejiang Province, was originally founded during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Mentioned by famous Chinese writer Lu Xun in his novel, the hotel has become a landmark of cultural tourism in the city.
"In addition to inheriting their traditions, seeking innovation, and insisting on integrity management, time-honored restaurants must boast their unique cultural advantages," said Lin Qiong, general manager of Xianheng Hotel.
The hotel has held banquets and relevant cultural activities themed on Lu Xu's work and developed new products that are popular among young consumers. Lin introduced that the hotel strives to develop new cultural products by making good use of its cultural advantages.
To better promote traditional Chinese culture, the hotel has launched a service to let its chefs instruct people on how to cook seasonal dishes and snacks themed on the 24 solar terms on the Chinese lunar calendar, which also enables more people to learn about Chinese cuisine culture.
"We will continue to highlight our cultural features and make our time-honored brand special and shine with new vitality," Lin said, adding that the hotel will provide culture-themed catering services for more tourists.
Chinese time-honored restaurant brands are continuously improving their level of digitalization, with some opening online flagship stores and running smart restaurants, and others cultivating new consumption scenarios and business models, such as online takeout and delivery services.
Emei Restaurant, a time-honored brand serving Sichuan cuisine in Beijing, is one of them. Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, the restaurant has accelerated its digital transformation, seeing an increase in its turnover by embracing online takeout and delivery services, despite the negative impact of the epidemic on the catering industry.
To better meet customers' personalized and diversified demands, the restaurant's Guangqulu branch offers more choices for its takeout services, such as a meal for one or two people, family-sized menu choices, and barbecue, attracting an increasing number of new customers.
"Catering enterprises need to embrace digitalization. Time-honored restaurants should not only offer more varieties of delicious dishes, but also continuously improve the consumption experience for customers through digital solutions," said Zhang Yuming, general manager of Emei Restaurant.
According to Zhang, digitalization empowers time-honored restaurants, helping them reduce costs and create more consumption scenarios. He introduced that the revenue of the restaurant's takeout services accounts for about one-third of its total revenue.
Chinese time-honored restaurant brands are also stepping up efforts to develop new products and services in order to meet the needs of young customers.
Established more than 150 years ago, Quanjude Roast Duck, an iconic chain restaurant known for its traditional Peking roast duck in Beijing, has included 12 new dishes, together with desserts and mixed drinks, in its 2022 menu to attract young customers. Quanjude has taken further steps to reach its consumers by promoting its official cartoon logo to the public and introducing profound Chinese food culture via live-streaming sessions and animated short videos.