Coronavirus Like a 'Nuclear Strike' on China F&B: Johnny Ding

By Matthew Bossons, February 8, 2020

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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.

Johnny Ding – Guangzhou

Proprietor at Slow Life Kitchen (Hong Kong), Slow Life Kitchen Elite

Johnny Ding is the proprietor at Guangzhou’s Michelin-honored Slow Life Kitchen Elite. He entered the F&B business in Hong Kong back in 2015 before expanding to Guangzhou the following year. Below, Ding shares his thoughts on the impact the novel coronavirus is having on the Guangzhou F&B scene:

How has the novel coronavirus impacted your F&B businesses so far?
The cancellation of all catering orders for February, as well as no reservations for Valentine’s Day, so far. We’ve already lost over RMB150,000 in business volume.

How has the disease outbreak impacted the F&B industry in Guangzhou, based on your observations?
In general, the F&B industry in China has been put in a difficult position. There are no visitors, or very few, but we still must pay employees’ salaries during the period of government control measures, as required by the government. [As well as] expensive rent, government taxes, social insurance, etcetera.

Have you experienced similar challenges previously while working in the F&B business in Guangzhou?
No, this is the first time.

How long do you think it will take for the F&B business in Guangzhou to recover from the current situation?
Maybe four to six months. Maybe I’m pessimistic, but what we learned in the past from SARS is that public health incidents like this are like a nuclear strike for us [in the F&B industry]. So, I think survival is the most important thing.

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

For regular updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, click here. For more articles in our Appetite for Destruction series, click here.

[Cover image via Johnny Ding]

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