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Famed eatery reopens after enduring epidemic

China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-24 09:02

Nestled within the maze of hutong in Beijing's Dongcheng district, a small, unassuming restaurant drew a steady stream of customers on an ordinary Monday morning in February.

Guo Hua, owner of the Yuebin restaurant, was visibly impressed to see snaking queues outside the doors of the eatery.

The first private restaurant to open after reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, this venerable feature of Beijing's dining scene has captured the hearts and taste buds of those who seek out the delectable offerings that belie its humble appearance.

"We would normally see our first customers after 11:30 am. It's our first day of business after Spring Festival, and I didn't anticipate so many people so early in the morning," Guo said.

The restaurant is around 40 square meters in size and accommodates 11 dining tables, which makes it feel slightly cramped. The walls are adorned with photos of the elder generations of restaurant owners.

By lunchtime, the place was swarming with customers eagerly waiting to try specialty dishes passed down for decades. The restaurant's famous fried meatballs and sweet and sour pork ribs added to the lively atmosphere.

Since Yuebin first opened in 1980, guests from far and wide have come to taste traditional Beijing dishes. To preserve the memory of the olden days, the restaurant has retained its original facade and name.

For the past three years, like many other small businesses, Yuebin has been affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, closing and reopening several times.

Fortunately, Guo received support from the government and regular customers. "We were concerned to see stores and restaurants being affected. We tried our best to find ways to allow everyone to return to work and staunch losses as soon as we could," said Liu Xiaolong, an official with the community branch of the district's market supervision bureau.

Government support included tax reductions and exemptions. "At such a critical moment, the support helped us weather the challenges," Guo said. "The fact that customers have been thinking about our restaurant encourages us to keep going."

Guo renovated the restaurant during the Spring Festival this year. She said she received many phone calls during the holiday from regular customers and friends who were eagerly waiting to dine at their favorite restaurant again.

"On the first day of reopening, everything went smoothly, and the restaurant was once again bustling with activity," she said.

Guo also took a picture with all her employees in front of the restaurant on that day, which marked "the beginning of the new phase of Yuebin".


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