Diners in Shenzhen City, south China’s Guangdong Province have been flocking to hotpot restaurants amid the chilly temperatures, bringing the favorite shared style of eating back to life after COVID-19.

Long lines have been seen lately outside a local hotpot restaurant before nightfall in the Futian District of Shenzhen, as the smell of spices wafted through the air. Diners say they just cannot get enough of the comfort food.

“I eat hotpot more often in winter, two or three times every week, while I eat only once a week in summer,” said one diner.
According to the manager, the line of customers waiting for a table starts early and lasts long.

“Diners usually come in around 17:00, and there’d be a long line at the gate around 18:00. The restaurant is usually running at full capacity by 22:00,” said Li Shiqiang, operation director of the hotpot restaurant.

At another hotpot restaurant specializing in Chaoshan beef, tables are also full. The manager says the dining area fills up with customers in just 30 minutes and notes how the cold weather can actually be beneficial for business.

“Our business has picked up since temperatures began to drop around the New Year’s Day. Hotpot is a little different from other catering industries as the colder the weather, the better the business. For example, our beef sales have increased from about 1,000 plates per day to 1,500 plates per day now,” said Zhang Biao, operation manager of the beef hotpot restaurant.

December to February is usually the peak season for hotpot restaurants, with revenues accounting for up to one third of their annual figures.

Shenzhen’s major hotpot restaurants were hit hard by the epidemic, but are recovering rapidly from the fallout. As the Spring Festival approaches, the industry is expected to recover to the level of same period last year.