Across China: Italian restaurateurs make comeback in southwest China
CHENGDU, March 23 (Xinhua) -- "Welcome, pizza night is back," Simone Crespi said while greeting his German guest by bumping elbows. "It would be a giant hug under normal circumstances."
On March 17, Simone, one of the three owners of Italian restaurant Bucciano in the city of Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, promoted a pizza night on social media platform WeChat.
The restaurant saw its first wave of customers in a long time since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Marco, the manager, took each of the customers' temperatures and sprayed alcohol on their hands.
The Bucciano restaurant is owned by three Italians living in Chengdu, all of whom have other jobs besides the restaurant. One of them is a shoe designer, one a pilot and Simone works in the sports business. He used to work with Juventus F.C. back in Milan before he came to China 18 years ago. He currently consults for four soccer teams in Sichuan and Guizhou Province in southwest China.
Impacted by COVID-19, the Bucciano restaurant was closed from the Spring Festival to late February. As the situation improved, the restaurant started to receive about 15 online orders per day on delivery applications such as Meituan and on WeChat.
During the shutdown, Simone and Marco took precautions to protect themselves from the virus. They did grocery shopping online, wore masks when going out and frequently washed their hands. They also did volunteer work in their community, such as registering body temperatures of foreign residents, doing grocery shopping for people in quarantine and distributing masks to those in need.
"The Chinese government was efficient in making the right decisions, and the Chinese people strictly followed the rules. Those efforts showed great results," said Simone. From his point of view, things are going back to normal.
"Now we are operating at half capacity, but hopefully business will make a full recovery by the end of March," Simone said.
The recent situation back in Italy, however, has begun to worry them.
On March 12, China sent out a team of medical experts and 31 tonnes of medical supplies to Italy to help with their fight against COVID-19. Among the first team of nine experts, five are from Sichuan Province.
Simone was pleased to hear about this.
"China's support was timely, and I'm proud that the team comes from the city I live in," Simone said. "It's personal for me because my family lives in Lombardy."
Since March 14, Italians began to host "balcony concerts" after cities were locked down. Videos of these concerts have gone viral on Chinese social media. Though they were thousands of miles away, Simone and Marco followed suit on March 15. They played guitar while singing "ma il cielo è sempre più blu" (But the sky will always be blue) and wrote "Andra' tutto bene" (It will be OK) on a blackboard in order to support their families and friends back home.
"Things are going back to normal in China," Simone said. "Hopefully, Italy will see the same recovery soon."