Shanghai restaurants struggle to meet demand for CNY
Many Shanghainese residents prefer to enjoy Chinese New Year (CNY) dinners with family and friends at local restaurants instead of at home.
Though the lunar new year is about two months away, seats for CNY dinners in many local restaurants are already booked up, Laodong Daily reported Monday. Noticeably, many locals have booked seats for meals during the Spring Festival holiday week.
The price for CNY dinner in Shanghai was reported to witness a 10 to 20 percent increase on average this year. But the rising prices have not affected the market. Thus far, over 90 percent of seats for CNY dinners in the city have been booked.
A well-known Shanghainese restaurant told Laodong Daily that its seats for CNY were all booked in September.
For a table of 10, the restaurant offers two meal sets; one for 3,680 yuan ($533.63) and the other for 4,580 yuan, according to the restaurant manager. For a table of six, the restaurant has a meal set for 1,980 yuan. If customers desire a private room, they must choose the 4,580 yuan set.
Jin Peihua, deputy secretary general of Shanghai Restaurants Cuisine Association, said that the average set price for local restaurants of at least 2,000 square meters in size was around 2,000 yuan in 2017.
“The average CNY dinner cost per person in 2017 was 200 yuan. But this year, most local restaurants have raised their set prices by 10 to 20 percent. Most meal sets are being sold for 2,000 to 3,000 yuan now,” Jin told Laodong Daily.
Since seats during CNY are extremely limited, some local restaurants have requested that customers hurry and finish their meals within a certain time frame. An employee at a famous Shanghainese restaurant told media that the duration for the first batch of consumers is fixed between 4: 30 pm and 7 pm.
Customers must leave before 7 pm, because the second batch of consumers starts at 7:30 pm.
But some local restaurants refuse to limit their dining time during CNY in order to provide a more pleasant experience. “Unlimited dining time lets our customers enjoy their meals. And if we only serve one batch of customers, we can close up around 8:30 pm so our staff can go home earlier and have dinner with their own families,” one local restaurant manager said.
Since it is now more difficult for Shanghai citizens to book a restaurant during the lunar new year holiday, many locals instead choose to buy semi-cooked meals from wellknown restaurants.
A resident surnamed Yang told Laodong Daily that if she is unable to obtain a seat at a famous restaurant, she will opt to buy semi-finished dishes from well-known restaurants rather than eat at a small restaurant.
Jin agreed that semi-finished dishes have been popular for many years in Shanghai, with well-known restaurants also launching such services this year. “The sales volume of semi-finished dishes is very likely to hit a record high around one month before CNY,” Jin told Laodong Daily.
An employee who works at a famous Cantonese restaurant in Shanghai said his restaurant launched six semifinished meal sets this year; all the ingredients needed for a restaurant-standard dish are included, which frees customers from having to search for the ingredients in a market.
This story was translated by Wang Han based on a report by Laodong Daily.