Many of the city's "time-honored snack brands" have left the Qianmen area of Beijing, famed for its snack food, because of poor business and high rents.
"I have persisted to the end, but it doesn't help while other time-honored snack brands have left the area one by one," said Wang Jinxiang, from Fried Dumpling Wang, the last store in Qingyunge Snack City.
Just last month, she also pulled out of Qianmen Snack City, also on Qianmen Street.
A man takes a nap at a snack food shop in Qianmen Street on Monday. [Wang Jing / China Daily]
Before her departure, 10 other time-honored snack brands, including Baodu Feng, Xiaochang Chen and Cheese Wei, had already left the Qianmen area in 2010.
Now, the Qianmen Snack City and Qingyunge Snack City, which are both on Qianmen Street and which had been open for a year, are closed.
According to the manager of Qingyunge Snack City, the first floor will be remodeled and still sell food but he was not sure whether favorite snack brands will be among them. The other two floors of the eatery will be used for leisure.
A man surnamed Yang who lives in the Qianmen area said he was surprised to see the mass exodus from the snack food area.
"On that day when Qingyuge opened, many local residents came here to have a taste and the scene was rather impassioned," he said. "It is sad to see them leave after just one year."
Excessive rents were blamed as the main reason.
Hou Jia, chairman of the Beijing Time-honored Snack Association, shared this view.
"The rent was 37 yuan for a square meter per day, and a bowl of Douzhir must be priced at 90 yuan to break even," Hou said, "I think 5 yuan for a square meter per day would have been more acceptable."
Meanwhile, Hou also complained about the red tape.
"Many time-honored brands were workshops in the past and peddled outside to attract customers. But now the urban management officers come if we do so," said Hou. "It is a cultural tradition. We hope the relevant departments can ease the restrictions."
Hou said the snack operators also need to improve their management and redefine their business orientation.
"Some operators were also selling upscale food like shark fin in Snack City," Hou said. "But we should have made it clear that Snack City sold traditional snacks only."
Some of those moving out of the area vowed to return because they said the Qianmen area had been a golden place for them.
"We will surely be back," said Feng Juguang, 78, the third-generation heir of Baofu Feng. "Traditional snacks require more time and labor and the profit is small so we need to find ways to deal with the high rent."
For China Daily