This article is a part of our Appetite for Destruction feature, a series of interviews conducted by That’s staff to examine the impact of the novel coronavirus on China’s food and beverage industry. For more articles from this series, click here.
Cadence Gao – Shenzhen
Chef/Proprietor at Magpie, Woodpecker, Chickadee, Corvidae
Born in Shenzhen, Cadence Gao grew up in Shenyang, Liaoning province. He returned to Shenzhen in 2016 and opened popular restaurant Magpie in 2018. As of February 5, nearly all of Gao’s F&B establishments are temporarily closed due to the novel coronavirus, with the notable exception of Chickadee, a bakery. Below, Gao shares his thoughts on the impact the novel coronavirus is having on the Shenzhen F&B scene:
How has the novel coronavirus impacted your businesses?
The coronavirus has been unkind to our industry. While [the containment measures] are a necessary setback to ensure the efforts of the central government are successful in helping us get through this time, I’d be lying if I said the interim effects haven’t drastically damaged our business.
How has the outbreak impacted the F&B industry in Shenzhen, based on your observations?
Based on my observations, the industry right now is hanging in the state of ‘wait and see.’ Due to the recent confirmation of an infected delivery driver [in Shenzhen], takeout has dwindled, and dine-in customers are approaching nonexistent. I’m regretful to say that I’m expecting some great businesses will shutter if there is no definitive change for the good within the next two months. Restaurants don’t usually keep cash reserves beyond a quarter.
I believe that closures and reductions are an inevitability for the industry. Even the biggest of chains are suffering through this time. My heart goes out to their wallets.
Have you ever experienced anything like this previously as a business owner?
I am fortunate to say that I have never experienced anything similar to this pandemic before.
What could be the possible positive outcomes of this disease outbreak for Shenzhen’s F&B scene going forward?
One of the positives I can look forward to is the possibility of reduced running costs as a Band-Aid measure for surviving businesses, as well as the possibility we may have new exciting projects to look forward to – [businesses] who couldn’t previously get started due to high pressure in the market.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Cover image via Cadence Gao]