The last month has been catastrophic for Taiwan’s small restaurants. Let’s meet one small restaurateur in Taipei, whose business has almost vanished overnight. With profits just a fifth of what they were before this wave began, Northeast China native Yang Bo never dreamed it would get so tough. But with support from friends and generosity from his landlord, he says his family will stay afloat.
Pickled cabbage is fried and tossed with pork and pig’s liver…
And garnished with blood sausage homemade by restaurant owner, Yang Bo.
This dish, known as Shazhucai, is the traditional New Year’s dish in his hometown in Northeast China. Usually it’s a customer favorite, but with eating in banned, Mr. Yang’s profits have plummeted over 80%. His once bustling eatery is now empty, save for his pet white goose, which, for once, has the run of the place.
Profits have dropped about 80%. My principle before was no takeout, and I never worked with delivery platforms. Now I have to stoop to selling takeout just to scrape by.
He was always an eat in or move on kind of guy. But for now, takeout is all he can offer. Recently he was late paying the rent, but was moved by unexpected kindness from his landlord.
“It’s hard to make money,” I said, “It’s four days late, I’m so sorry.” But my landlord replied saying, “Well, you’ve paid May, I’ll let you have June and July for free.” I can’t tell you how that made me feel. All I can say is it made me shiver all over.
That experience, along with the kindness he’s experienced from vendors at the wet market, has made the Chinese native more aware than ever of the warmth of his adopted home.
Coming to Taiwan to visit relatives in 2016, Yang fell in love at first sight with his future wife. They both worked as carers, but the night shifts were punishing. That’s why they switched to running the restaurant.
I said, let’s open a restaurant. It doesn’t matter if we don’t make much at first. Just so long as we can get by, and I can give my wife a normal working rhythm, perhaps it will help her illness and be good for us all round.
The little eatery already attracted lots of faithful customers before COVID hit. Now it’s found help from friends new and old. Yang says he’s sure they can weather the storm.