WUHAN, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Wuhan's catering industry has seen a better-than-expected recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, boosted by new dining trends and thrifty rules such as the introduction of smaller-portion dishes.
Work resumption rate in the city's catering industry, which was among the hardest hit by the outbreak, was 78 percent on Aug. 1, up from 13.3 percent on May 1, according to the city's dining industry association.
"Now, over 80 percent of businesses are back to work in the industry, which is better than expected," said Liu Guoliang, president of the association.
"However, restaurant attendance is still modest. It is only 50 percent in many restaurants, and 70 percent in better-off ones," he said, urging for more stimulus and promotional measures.
In response to a national call for curbing food waste, the association has advised restaurants to design smaller-portion and half-portion dishes, offer take-away boxes for leftovers, and adopt an "N-1" strategy, in which a group of diners will be encouraged to order dishes one fewer than the number of the diners, but are free to add more later.
Such measures will not discourage the sector's recovery or dent consumption, Liu said, adding that local restaurants have adopted the "N-1" mode since 2013, and the concept of small-portion dishes will actually spur consumption.
Xinhua reporters in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province, said many restaurants and eateries have already adopted small servings to boost sales while curbing food waste.
"After we introduced single-person or small servings, we started receiving more take-out orders and our dine-in services have rebounded to 90 percent of the pre-epidemic level," said Huang, manager of Mystic South-Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine in downtown Wuhan.
Families, friends, or other group diners communally sharing dishes is a common norm in most Chinese restaurants. Dishes are, therefore, often designed to be large in size, making it unfriendly for individual customers or couples.
Wang Xue, a hotpot buff in Wuhan, said many restaurants in post-COVID-19 Wuhan limit the number of diners at each table to four, so instead of throwing large hotpot parties, she now dines with only one or two friends.
"The introduction of smaller dishes is very timely, and I can now enjoy more dishes each time," she said. "It makes me more willing to go to restaurants."
"Customers can now enjoy four to five (smaller) dishes at the price of two (larger) dishes," Liu said. "This will help restaurants win back consumers who have been accustomed to cooking and dining at home."
In 2019, the turnover of Wuhan's catering industry reached 123 billion yuan (17.7 billion U.S. dollars), a threefold increase from 2012, the year before the nation launched a campaign against food waste. Enditem