Beijing has been battling an outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19 for just over a month now. While the Chinese capital has avoided a full citywide lockdown like the one seen in Shanghai, restrictions have not been easy for the city’s F&B industry.
That’s because since May 1, all in-house dining has been suspended in Beijing. Restaurants, bars and cafes are restricted to takeout only.
That’s has reached out to a number of big players on the Beijing F&B scene. We want to find out not only how they’ve coped with the city’s ban on in-house dining, but also what consumers can do to support their businesses.
In this article, we hear from Beyond Yakitori, a modern Japanese upscale izakaya located in Topwin Center, Sanlitun. Having first opened its door six years ago, the restaurant has garnered a reputation for its creative Japanese izakaya dishes.
In addition to great food, diners also get an authentic izakaya dining experience.
Unlike many other F&B venues in Beijing, Beyond Yakitori has opted not to provide takeout during Beijing’s ‘soft lockdown’ period. Instead, they want to allow their staff to use the time off to do other things.
Here’s what they told us about the current period in Beijing:
“The hardest thing for any F&B business is undoubtedly being unable to open our doors and serve our guests. Beyond is a strong believer in its team. Our top priority has always been taking care of each team member.
“As this is not the first shutdown (the first two experiences were both in 2020 and we made our own decision rather than being forced to close like this time), we are trying to take advantage of this rare opportunity to allow our team to take some time off, be with their families (we know they are needed at home now), as well as learn and improve their skills and overall knowledge.
“Some of our team members are learning languages now. Meanwhile, others are taking online wine classes and watching culinary master classes to work on new recipes.
“We organized a two-day field trip in early May, something impossible for us during normal operation days. And we’ve decided to continue paying everyone's salary despite being unable to return to work. We are estimating monthly losses to be in the tens of thousands.”
And on why they won’t provide takeout during this period, they had this to say:
“Unlike many other restaurant concepts, being a ‘bistro’ or izakaya style restaurant, Beyond Yakitori is focusing 100% on the fun and intimate feeling people have during their dining experience.
“Take out or delivery just doesn’t work with our concept. It is the kind of food and way of serving that can only be enjoyed around a table in our restaurant. Not to mention that our core grilled items will fall far short of our standards when not consumed straight off the grill. That may leave guests with a bad experience and a bad memory and may do more damage than good to our brand.
“Therefore, takeout is not offered at the moment.”
Beyond Yakitori is confident that diners will return once the ban on in-house dining is lifted. In the meantime, they say they would like to have a channel through which to connect with fans.
[Cover image via Unsplash. All in-text images via Beyond Yakitori]