As many American eating places are restricted to takeout and supply providers, some residents in Hong Kong have been avoiding banquet-style meals and sizzling pot — a conventional Chinese meal — after a giant group contracted the virus after a dinner. “The hardest part is to restore people’s confidence,” a restaurant proprietor in the metropolis stated.
HONG KONG — What started as a traditional Lunar New Year celebration ended with almost a dozen members of a household sickened and a metropolis of seven million on edge.
Nineteen members of an prolonged household gathered in January for warm pot — a conventional Chinese meal through which diners dip uncooked meat, seafood and greens into a shared caldron of simmering broth.
By the finish of the meal, 11 folks had unwittingly contracted the new coronavirus, the largest single cluster of circumstances to this point in Hong Kong. Reports about the household, later recognized in the native information media as the “hot pot clan,” alarmed many on this semiautonomous Chinese metropolis, spurring eating places to motion and main residents to keep away from giant banquet-style meals, in addition to sizzling pot.
As eating places round the world shut or retool in an effort to implement social distancing, Hong Kong’s sizzling pot eating places provide each a cautionary story and a few good recommendation about the way to proceed to serve clients amid a pandemic.
Soon after the circumstances had been confirmed, and simply weeks after a lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, the central Chinese metropolis the place the epidemic began, the get together venue the place the household had eaten closed its doorways for good.
Other sizzling pot eating places noticed commerce drop off quickly. Spots well-known for the dish pulled it from their menus.
One restaurant, Suppa, stated enterprise was down as a lot as 96 % after information of the household unfold throughout the metropolis. For two days, it had no clients in any respect.
“The hardest part is to restore people’s confidence,” stated Bong Kwok, 34, one in all the restaurant’s founders, who opened Suppa in 2017. “This happened too fast.”
For months final yr, the restaurant’s Causeway Bay neighborhood was shrouded in tear fuel as avenue battles raged between antigovernment protesters and riot cops.
After weeks of recording new circumstances in the single digits, Hong Kong is experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus circumstances, linked to vacationers and abroad residents from Europe who returned to the metropolis as the pandemic marched throughout the globe.
The new wave of infections prompted the authorities on Monday to announce a ban on alcohol gross sales at bars and eating places in an effort to encourage social distancing, dealing one other blow to the business.
Mr. Kwok and Mr. Ho have been savvy about the way to finest proceed to serve clients amid heightened tensions and altering guidelines. Their strategies for coping might function a helpful mannequin for restaurateurs in different cities coping with related points.
Suppa, a homonym for “give it a blanch” in Cantonese, rolled out supply providers for the first time in February, a transfer welcomed by loyal patrons who wished to get pleasure from sizzling pot away from the crowds.
Those who select to dine-in are met by an worker with a thermometer who checks their temperature at the door and asks about their journey historical past.