Around The World - Chengdu, China

Ni Hao and Hello, my name is Simone Crespi.  

I am one of the three owners of Bucciano, a restaurant that brings China the best culinary delights that Italy has to offer. Our flagship restaurant is based in Chengdu, the capital city of China’s Sichuan province in the Southwest. We named the restaurant after the Italian province I was fortunate enough to visit several years ago. Naturally, the food, the people, and the atmosphere crept into my heart. This inspired us to bring a little of that Italian flair back home. It only seemed fitting to name it Bucciano when we opened its doors four years ago.  

Although I haven’t visited Italy in more than a year, I am very fortunate to call Chengdu my home. It has a rich history dating as far back as 4BC. It is filled with incredible artifacts and museums. And, despite it being a buzzing metropolis, it is also home to a conservation centre that promotes the breeding of endangered Giant Panda Bears in their natural habitat.

 

During the outbreak most businesses have been hit hard and especially those in the hospitality sector.   I understand that restaurateurs in Italy have implemented an option for diners to cook their meals at home and get the ingredients delivered to them, so they have offered a solution to the current dining crisis in the country. I have looked at this approach during our lockdown 

This pandemic has required so many business owners to place safety first and by doing that, create innovative and new ways of working. Although Bucciano was closed for business, we developed homemade cooking kits allowing our clientele to recreate their favourite Bucciano dishes from the comfort of their own kitchens. 

After the initial alert from the city and the authority of Wuhan, the Government's response and the directive was swift and decisive. It provided clear and mandatory directives to ensure our safety. China immediately grasped the severity of the situation and respected the government's directives. To help the Government flatten the curve, Chinese and foreign volunteer groups immediately began working together by providing relief and support to foreigners in the city. We continue to generate awareness and provide support whenever possible. 

As a restaurant owner, I was faced with several challenges. Cash flow, staff management, and a surplus of raw food materials were some of the hurdles that I faced. It did, however, challenge me to find creative solutions and deliver good outcomes.  

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is a success. 

Staff are any organisations biggest asset and this is where I started. I reassured my employees that everything was going to be okay. A positive attitude is infectious in the best way possible. I devised cook at home meals and then planned future promotional activities up until the deployment of our delivery service. Then, I reorganised and optimised our storage warehouse and refrigerators to minimise wastage by managing product expiry dates. Lastly, I made a vow to myself to maintain excellent working and personal relationships with the members of my team and suppliers. I’m not sure who said it - coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.  

During these difficult times, I made a genuine offer to Bucciano’s employees and suppliers by letting them know that I’d be there to provide emotional and moral support - come rain or sunshine. China has united as a nation during this period and I am so very impressed with its spirit and willingness to help one another.    

During the imposed lockdown, I have also been using my excess time to exercise at home, read, and catch-up on some TV. More importantly, perhaps, I have structured my days and have dedicated time to setting future goals and visualising the necessary steps I need to take to reach my goals.   

Bucciano and other restaurants were able to reopen if they followed the imposed sanitation regulations. What this means is that we are only able to operate on an advanced booking reservation system. In addition to this, the customers and staff must undergo temperature control procedures, wear PPE, and wash their hands using the sanitizer/soap provided by the establishment before entering the premises.  The gathering of large crowds has been prohibited and we are able to work at 50% of our maximum capacity. Each table must be a minimum of 3 meters apart and the seats must be positioned to give the most distance. We are grateful that Bucciano is able to provide a little comfort in this manner. 

I urge, Italian, restaurateurs to take the break in service to focus on the improvement, renovation, bettering and overall strategy of the business. Try to understand how you can improve your methods of communication and break the mould. Be innovative and be creative. In this time make sure you look introspectively at your business, but most of all make sure you remain healthy and at peace.  

Simone Crespi - 柯西梦