Chinese time-honored restaurants glitter with new vitality

By Wang Ke, People’s Daily

Time-honored restaurants in China are closely following the trend of consumption upgrading, pursuing innovative development while maintaining their rich cultural heritage.
Many of them have renewed business models, upgraded products and services and enhanced digitalization for stronger vitality of development. By fully inheriting their cultural advantages and brand value, they have contributed to the further release of the consumption potential.
The time-honored brand is a title granted by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) to Chinese enterprises that have distinct Chinese cultural characteristics and are widely recognized. The brands boast unique products, exquisite skills and service philosophies passed down for generations.
In January this year, the MOFCOM, together with seven other departments, issued a guideline that required these well-established entities to seek healthy and high-quality development, as part of efforts to boost consumption and fulfill people’s need for a better life.
The Xianheng Hotel, established in 1894, is a prestigious restaurant in Shaoxing, a city known for its rice wine making in east China’s Zhejiang province. It became a big name in cultural tourism after being mentioned by the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun in his novel.
Today, the century-old restaurant has promoted fresh and innovative activities, becoming a must-visit for tourists going to Shaoxing. It has developed themed feasts and cultural activities about Lu Xun’s works, and launched a special service that invites customers to learn to cook seasonal dishes themed on the 24 solar terms on the Chinese lunar calendar with its chefs.
Time-honored brands must inherit their unique traditions to sustain enduring development, said Lin Qiong, general manager of the Xianheng Hotel.
Besides, time-honored restaurants are also enriching business scenarios and improving digitalization for better development.
Some of the brands launched mini-programs on the mobile platform WeChat and opened online shops, and some introduced intelligent food safety systems to make smart updates. Some connected themselves to online food delivery platforms to diversify the delivery manners, creating more convenient and efficient consumption scenarios.
The MOFCOM will keep encouraging time-honored restaurants to accelerate innovative development and improve competitiveness through digitalization, said an official with the ministry.
EMei Restaurant is a time-honored brand serving classic Sichuan cuisine in Beijing. Established in 1950, the restaurant has digitalized its business in recent years and has seen surging revenue after launching online delivery services.
To meet the personalized and diversified demands of the consumers, a branch of the restaurant is providing small-size working meals for 9-5ers, family packs for nearby residents, and to-go barbeque packs for customers planning to go picnic.
In addition, the restaurant has started an intelligent program in cooperation with the Chinese online food delivery platform Meituan. Now, the management of the restaurant is completely digital, from food ordering to revenue analysis, and from membership marketing to stock control.
The Quanjude Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant established in the 19th century in Beijing has been drawing energy for development from its constant innovation in recent years.
For instance, one of its branches on Beijing’s Qianmen Street has employed holographic projection technology since April this year to attract more young customers by showcasing the charm of the traditional Chinese culture in a trendy and immersive manner. Last, year, the brand launched its official cartoon mascot, a cute duck, in an effort to build a young brand symbol.
Besides, it also launches innovative products for the new generation via livestreaming, and introduces the profound Chinese food culture to the public through animated short videos.
Chinese time-honored restaurants should make more efforts to renew products and services to meet the demands of young consumers, said a MOFCOM official. The Ministry will keep guiding the brands to launch more goods and services that highlight the traditional Chinese culture, the official noted.