A business strategy of developing both dine-in and take-out services will be an ideal model for the growth of the city’s food service industry, said a senior official with Shenzhen Cuisine Association responding to the sustainability of the take-out services after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Liu Yongzhong, executive vice chairman of Shenzhen Cuisine Association, said restaurateurs should not put all growth hope on the take-out services as dine-in business will become robust again after the end of the pandemic, sznews.com reported yesterday.
The taste of many kinds of take-out food, especially Chinese cuisines, have been compromised due to the time spent on delivery, if compared to the same dishes consumed at the restaurants, Liu said.
The sales income from take-out food service has grown significantly for most restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after the no-contact delivery had been adopted, as most residents stayed home to curb the wide spread of the respiratory disease since late January, sznews.com said.
“I dared not order take-out food considering the virus is so highly contagious,” said a resident surnamed Liu. “But the adoption of contactless delivery alleviated my concerns.”
Liu said she started placing take-out food orders, which usually come with a card that included the names of the chef, the person responsible for packaging the food and the deliveryman and their body temperatures on it. She said the practice made her feel safe about the take-out food she had ordered.
Official figures provided by the association showed that income from the take-out food service of some eateries in the city have grown by 200 percent compared to the same period last year. Many high-end food establishments, such as Michelin-rated restaurants and restaurants of five-star hotels, which did not previously offer take-out services, also resorted to the online business model to survive the pandemic.
“Sales income of take-out food took up no more than 30 percent of the total revenue of many restaurants in the past, but it now accounts for up to 90 percent for some eateries,” said Liu.
Yunhaiyao (Mystic South Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine), a restaurant chain that serves Yunnan cuisine, recorded a 30-percent growth in its take-out business from earlier this year before the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a person in charge of the operation of the restaurant chain, which has 10 outlets across Shenzhen.
“The outlet in the King Glory Plaza in Luohu District has seen the biggest growth, 130 percent, of all our restaurants,” said the person, adding that the dine-in business of Yunhaiyao has returned to 40 percent of the business before the pandemic.
Over the course of the pandemic, it has been the same for Qin Yan, another restaurant specializing in Northwest Chinese cuisine.
Shu Xianlong, director of Qin Yan’s business operation center, said they introduced take-out service in February, when the virus was at its peak in Shenzhen, and it did increase the cash flow for the restaurant.
He said the company had suffered serious economic losses during the coronavirus outbreak, adding that the outlet at Wongtee Plaza in Futian District alone lost about 2.5 million yuan (US$352,783) a month, before the decision was made to start offering take-out food.
“Our dine-in business was virtually halted as most people stayed home. So we had to depend heavily on online business to pay for rent and labor costs,” Shu said.