Trusted Locations Will Recover Fastest After Coronavirus: Cong Huanhuan

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.

Cong Huanhuan – Shenzhen

Founder and Owner of HH Gourmet Restaurant, HH Baking Company (Retail/Wholesale Factory)

Cong Huanhuan hails from Harbin and has been working in the F&B industry for 15 years, the past eight of which she has spent in Shenzhen. Here, she shares her insight into the damage the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is causing to the Shenzhen F&B scene:

How has the novel coronavirus impacted your businesses?
Negatively. Most of the customers at our restaurant are foreigners and many have not returned [to Shenzhen] or have left China. If they are still around, they are not going out very much. Only a few restaurants have ordered wholesale items from HH Baking Company; at least the supermarkets are making some purchases [of baked goods].

What measures has your business taken to mitigate the damage caused by the prolonged CNY holiday and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak?
We are keeping our doors open even though we have reduced hours. We are allowing in-house dining and of course takeaway and delivery. We are promoting our nationwide delivery of bagels and other baked goods, which can be delivered to peoples’ homes – since people are cooking more at home. Plus discounts.

Have you experienced similar challenges previously, while working in the F&B business in Shenzhen?
Never, [we’re in] uncharted territories. I was in Beijing for SARS but I was not working in F&B at the time.

How long do you think it will take for your business to recover as a result of the virus and the preventative measures that have been put in place?
For the restaurant, I would predict September. We hope business will get back to normal for us when schools start up again after the summer holiday. For the factory, I would predict it will take a bit longer – a full year or more. Unfortunately, locations will go bankrupt and others will have slow business. Plus, it will take some time for new locations to open.

How long do you think it will take for the F&B business in Shenzhen to recover as a result of the virus and the preventative measures that have been put in place?
I think locations that are trusted, hygiene wise, and offer good value will recover the fastest. Locations with dancing and or live music will take the longest, because people may want to avoid locations with crowds for some time.

What could be the possible positive outcomes of this disease outbreak for Shenzhen’s F&B scene going forward?
Hopefully employees will fully understand the importance of proper hygiene practices. It’s not just a written procedure or what your boss says, it is much more important and bigger than that.

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 Cong Huanhuan]

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