Shanghai skyline at dusk (photo credit: iStock)

Shanghai skyline at dusk (photo credit: iStock)

From hot pot restaurants Haidilao to family eateries to Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants, bookings are full towards end of June to early July, but some caution it will take up to 3 months to return to pre-lockdown level.

Restaurants and eateries in China’s largest financial center Shanghai are now allowed to resume dine-in services starting from June 29, after more than 3 months of ban, bringing relief to the battered dining industry and on-trade reliant wine market.

The lift comes a month later after Shanghai relaxed lockdown measures and three months after Shanghai entered a citywide lockdown in late March.

Restaurant bookings from hot pot restaurants Haidilao to family eateries to Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants are full towards end of June to early July, as diners rush in to indulge in dinner times with family and friends.

Restaurants in China are buzzing a year after the pandemic
Restaurants in China are buzzing again as restrictions on dining are lifted (pic: Wacheng restaurant group)

According to Meituan, China’s biggest food delivery and booking platform, sales from Shanghai restaurant on the day of re-opening jumped by 293%, and Japanese restaurants are apparently the most popular among diners, followed by hot pot, Cantonese food and buffet.

Bookings at a high-end Japanese restaurant Sushi Noboru are full till mid of July, and Michelin starred Chinese restaurant Sing Rong Ji on the bund is fully booked upon reopening. Hot pot restaurant Haidilao also reported brisk foot traffic and bookings.

This also injected a sense of relief for many of the country’s wine merchants and suppliers, as on-trade usually accounts for majority of total wine sales in the country, up to 80% in some cases.

However, despite the buoyancy of dining, Covid measures are still in place in many neighborhoods and dining hours are limited to 1.5 hours. Many restaurateurs cautioned that it would take two or three months before dining can return  to pre-lockdown level.

From January to May, hospitality and dining industry in Shanghai suffered a 32.3% drop in overall revenue to RMB 40.439 billion (US$6 billion), according to data released by Shanghai government.

“From feedback of different branches, overall number of diners haven’t reached half of pre-pandemic level. There are a lot of reasons. It might be because some people don’t know yet that we are operating again since we are closed for over three months. It might also take time for people to resume dine in as for so long they have been getting used to delivery services, ” He Yuanzhi, General Manager of restaurant chain Yong He, was quoted as saying.

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