Canada General Election during the pandemic

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Supreme Leader, Make it pointy!

I am really shocked to hear we are going to have a federal election in September because Justin Trudeau chose to dissolve his minority government.

As a small restaurant owner it may be wise NOT to talk about politics since my point of view could upset some customers. But I don’t think a lot of people will read my blogs and it won’t be a big deal, this is more a record of what I am thinking right now.

I do think a lot and watch many videos to improve my English but I am politically homeless. I like some ideas on one side and like some other policies on the other side. It is more practical to see different policies on different issues, case by case, like they say, devils in the details.

Everybody may agree that small businesses suffer a lot during this pandemic. It’s almost impossible for the owners of closed businesses to vote for him.

The motive of Justin Trudeau to give up his prime minister position to take the chance of an election must be his calculation of winning a majority government.

So he is very confident that he did a good job so far after seeing a favorable polling number for him before his BIG decision. People and businesses are suffering now. To avoid more Covid cases or hospitalizations, people cannot return to offices and businesses in downtown areas are ruined, operations are postponed, people cannot see their loved ones. Now for the election, tens of millions of people need to come out to vote (gathering maybe) and people gather together to count votes afterwards,  only for him to become majority PM from current minority PM, this is called GREED, this may well backfire on him. 

It’s like your house is on fire, instead of trying your best to put out the fire, the leader of the house tries to grab more power by holding an election. Madness!

The decision to call for a new election in this pandemic may deduct 10 points from him already. The fact that he thought he did well so far is troubling as well. The economy is really bad, lack of productivity,  huge inflation, business bankruptions, and the only thing he did was to hand out money (deficit, I am totally OK to help out the people who need it) and buy a lot of vaccines (I give some credit to him for this). His performance and miscalculation of his winning odds show he is INCOMPETENT!

To be fair, I will throw out some ideas here to show why I am saying he is incompetent!

At the beginning of the pandemic, we could have set up some factories in Canada to produce PPE and ventilators since we have a lot of land and low cost clean electricity. With the automation now, setting up factory lines is not very labor demanding. 

Work with American pharmaceutical companies to get the license and authorization to produce vaccines in Canada, so we will have a lot of vaccines ourselves and help other nations. I guess this will boost his EGOs.

When the Canada-China relationship was at its lowest point he chose to co-develop a vaccine with China, is that reverse-thinking? Pure GENIUS, and we all know what happened to that, right? Please note, in Canada we do have first-class bio labs and top-notch researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Probably we could develop a good vaccine by ourselves. Joining force with American peers would put Canada in a much better position on the vaccine front.

Set up factories to produce rapid test kits under US license and use these rapid tests to safeguard important facilities for example meat producers, farms, transportation companies, 

Long term care homes, key businesses. If manpower is not enough for some key industries, we should put soldiers to help since we may not need them to defend our country during this pandemic. The army did help some senior residents in Quebec and Ontario, credit here.

He is from Montreal and we have the most potholes in the whole world. When his highness was bumping into the air in his car, I am wondering if he thinks it’s a bouncing castle experience, he may like the fun. Everybody knows it’s the corruption that causes the bad quality of the road and no leaders have the courage or willingness to fix it. To track the accountability of the construction companies will be an easy solution. This shame is on different levels of leadership not only on him.

Talk about leadership, with my limited knowledge, I see a lot of incompetency in our public sectors. In Montreal, they wanted to limit the plastic bag usage, they passed bylaws to ban thin plastic bags and can only use thick plastic bags hoping people will reuse them. The reality is people still use them as single-use only, it’s not as strong as cloth green bags, this simply adds more plastic usage per bag. If you want people to use less plastic bags you need to provide a feasible alternative, for example, cheap paper bags. For restaurant takeout, you have to have either plastic bags or paper bags, when you pass laws to force them to only use expensive paper bags, you simply assume restaurant owners have a lot of extra money to absorb this extra cost especially after the bleeding during this pandemic. We can have solutions to provide cheap paper bags, remember we have plenty of pulp in Canada, we are famous for that. The government can encourage more factories here to produce paper bags, worst case, subsidise them a little bit. When you have this industry strong, it will protect the environment and create jobs.

For recycling paper and plastics, have you noticed almost all the recycle trucks mix the stuff from recycle bins with soiled dirty stuff, they simply send them to landfill. It’s just a feel-good show wasting people’s time and money. It’s like people pretending to be sleeping, so funny, all the leaders chanting “protect the environment”, when can we be real? If you don’t believe me, please follow some recycling trucks to see for yourself.

If you really care about the environment, you need to foster a chain of companies to process the recycled materials, to make sure they can have the efficiency to make money.

I notice the automatic can/bottle recycling machines in most grocery stores are really good. I believe the aluminum cans and plastic bottles recycled there can be reused efficiently. But those machines only accept certain preset bar codes on the can or bottle. In my opinion, the government could work with these beverage companies to set up a standard for barcodes on their bottles. To recycle easily, prefer the aluminum first, plastic second and glass last. All imported beverage drinks follow the same barcode standard. Also we can expand this outside of beverages. This way, recycling companies can make profit and much less stuff goes to landfills.

Please take advantage of the information technologies, we are in 21 century. We could achieve all of these easily, transparently and cost effectively.

In Canada, most electricity comes from clean hydro-power and we are so blessed with the abundance. Canada should be the best electric car market and manufacturer. We should have worked with Tesla to set up a lot of Mega factories in Canada, please check their automation assembly line videos, it’s so efficient and high-tech. Here in Canada we have a lot of land, clean electricity and a lot of talents as well, the government should extend their hands to Elon Musk. If you really love the environment, show us.

Even though we don’t have good terms with Elon Musk on setting up factories here we should at least subsidize a lot to have all cars sold here electric since we have the CLEAN cheap electricity!

Every time I sit in traffic knowing all the cars are burning gasoline doing nothing I feel bad about the environment. All the leaders are talking about protecting the environment, fixing the traffic, and changing to electric cars!

Remember we are part of G7 and I have to Google it to see what it means.

The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organization of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies.

Now look at Canada, what industries are we leading?

Justin Trudeau already patted on his own back saying he did a good job already.

You have been in power for almost 6 years, what results have been achieved?

In my own opinion, you have already proven you are NOT capable of leading this beautiful country. You don’t have to be good at everything. Personally I like you but this is not a job for you.

You are very handsome and charming, you have a lot of fortune and bear a great family name. People having half of what you have should already be very satisfactory. You don’t have to pursue fame, you cannot have it all. Sometimes egos do hold you down. If you suck on this very important post, leave the chance to others who may be really good at it since it’s really important for the people.

I share a quote from Elon Musk, he actually said to someone who was pissing him off in the Tesla factory

“You know, I could be drinking mai tais with naked supermodels, but instead I’m here with you.” 

The quote is in this article from The Guardian

I think you may think about that a little bit. I mean relaxing.

It won’t be a failure anyway, everybody has limits, people are good at different things.

Sometimes one person’s failure could be a success for a country, and likewise!

Besides you speak English and French perfectly and I admire that a lot. 

If you lose the election this time, I hope you can relax and come to help me improve my French and English.

But I do wish you good luck, at least you are trying to win!

I hope this article won’t offend you and that’s not my intention.

I believe a maximum of 100 people may read this blog and most of them won’t agree with me at all.

Like what I wrote on my business card, trying to be funny, don’t be too serious.

PS. I worked my ass off during this pandemic to keep our restaurant business open and I spent almost 3 hours tonight on this article. 

Hope readers like it.

I am really tired.

I was not patient today

I try to be very patient and provide best services possible as long as I am serving customers myself.

This noon I failed and I regretted right away when they left.

I feel I have to write this down to remind myself that I should always improve my services to our customers. At the same time I can better myself.

Here is what happened.

At lunch time, we have three customers sitting by the window.

After one or two dishes were served one of them came to me asking not putting black beans in all plates since her friend is allergic to it and I answered all the plates ordered did not contain black beans. But I could be wrong since the black beans could be different things by their definition and this misunderstanding could be common for ingredients. After some time, she came to me asking an extra serving plate for her friend to hold some food that does not contain black beans for sure. I told her there was no black beans but she insisted saying just in case. I said “anyway, for sure” and turned away to take an extra plate for her. But she may feel I was not friendly. Three of them ordered five dishes and they have some left over for each of them. One of them asked for boxes to take home and I asked for how many. He said 5 boxes and I asked ” are you sure you need 5?” He said “if you don’t mind”. I said “for sure” but at the same time I don’t know why I shrugged and turned away to get some boxes. But that may well leave this customer feel I was trying to save some boxes. I realized that issue right away then I tried to make it up in the following conversations.

At the end, they only used three boxes. They said they liked the food but we said farewell friendly. But I felt really bad about my services and I knew I made a mistake.

I am also a people person and I should always be very patient to all requests and make customers enjoy the experience at our restaurant.

Sometimes when we are really busy or we are short handed we could not provide the level of customer services I would like but in that case I may give myself a pass.

I used to have this motto hanging on the side wall of our first restaurant at Cote-des-Neiges. It says “Never Stop Improving”, I hope I can keep up!

Any feedback is very welcomed to me directly by social media or email.

My personal Youtube channel:




Simple math about restaurant business

I really panicked a few weeks ago when I found out the prices of most Chinese ingredients went up a lot due to the dramatic increase of shipping cost from China, it’s about 5 to 7 times more expensive than the usual for the shipping.

Also maybe due to the labor market during the pandemic some ingredients produced in Canada or US cost more as well. 

With the big increase of the food cost, 30% commission taken from UberEats, we may not have a feasible profit margin for our delivery orders and that’s the main reason we decided to open the restaurant for dine-in two weeks ago. The government policies make it much more difficult and costly to hire which means we simply could not make so many dishes right now. So we have to limit the low profit margin delivery orders to see how it goes and adjust accordingly.

How about the financial assistance from the government?

1), 20K dollars forgivable loan after you borrow 60K from a bank, this is real.

2), rent relief, government pays 50% of the rent, landlord pays 25% and business pays 25%, sounds amazing, right? Wait a second, to qualify for this, your sales have to drop 50% or 75%(not sure but I don’t want to Google), the real trick is that only landlord can apply for this program, most landlords don’t want to bear the loss of 25% and you don’t want to blame them. If the government really wants to help, how about the government paying 75% percent and business paying 25%? So this is a tricky one.

3), CEWS, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the formula is if your sales go down x% compared to before the pandemic, the government will refund you x% of your paid wages. Sounds nice. But if you are a restaurant owner you will see it’s not as good as it appears. When UberEat takes 30% as commission, the cost of food and labor goes up crazy, the net profit may have dropped more than 80% (more or less but this is difficult to calculate). So let’s assume the total sales before commission are the same, your real sales drop 30% so you can apply 30% of your total wages back. But the real loss of profit is much much more than that and I hope I am not making this too complicated. The best way to calculate business loss is to calculate the loss of real net profit but it’s not realistic for the government to know that for all businesses. So I think the government is doing OK on this.

As a small business owner I think the best way to help the economy is to open the economy safely.

Put more labor into the market so people can produce more products and services to bring down the prices to avoid the vicious down spiral circle for the economy.

After 18 months of pandemic a lot of restaurants are struggling already if not closed, now increased food costs and shortage of labor could just kill some of the remaining survivors.

We are extremely lucky to survive so far since we had a lot of media publicity thanks to Kim Belair’s tweet about my online menu comments. Now I feel the pain myself and also for my fellow peer restaurant owners.

Please remember, behind every struggling small business there are family members to feed.

I am worried that after huge inflation and the shutdown of most of the small businesses, more people would have difficulty finding a job after several months. Then the real economic crisis will come to haunt all of us.

It’s the wisdom and responsibility of our government to find a balance between public safety and the overall economy. It’s very easy for the government to shut down the economy and hand out money to people since it’s not their money but the debt to the future generations. Also all the people working for the government are paid as usual so they don’t feel the income pressure. 

To keep our restaurant open, I have been working almost 7 days a week and 14 hours a day in the past year and half. Some customers probably saw me cutting vegetables in the dining room. I don’t complain since this pandemic falls on everybody. We are just unlucky to be in the restaurant business . 

I have cut many tons of vegetables myself and for every order we’ll need to cut vegetables, cut meat and cook. More orders mean more corresponding work for the kitchen staff including myself. So if the profit margin is very low, it’s kind of a suicide, selling in volume in our restaurant won’t work otherwise I may need to cut vegetables 24/7.

 After our secret opening, we have seen a good amount of customers dine-in and that is an encouraging sign. 

With a good mix of dine-in and delivery we may bring up the profit margin to a sustainable level. If we can handle the workload for more dine-in we may announce our opening for dine-in soon and cut down our deliveries even further.

Also during this limited dine-in period, I interviewed 3 more guests on my Eat_With_The_Owner series.

Here are the YouTube videos.

If you want to join my video to tell your story please contact me.

My personal Youtube channel:




Let’s keep this a secret

Today is Thursday July 22 2021, I have a secret to tell you guys but I don’t want a lot of people to know it so I choose this blog to leak the secret.

Since the pandemic started in Feb 2020 our restaurant has been open ONLY for takeouts and deliveries through delivery companies. For the summer of 2020 when the government allowed dine-in we chose not to do that. This summer starting at the beginning of June dine-in was allowed and I have to make a tough decision again.

For the downtown area, no dine-in in summer means less business but we cannot find enough staff to support a fully operating restaurant. I was hoping the takeout would support us through the summer and we will make an epic comeback after the whole pandemic is over.

So, the whole June and first half of July we did takeout and delivery only but we did see the expected sales dip since no tourists were in downtown but more restaurants are open for dine-in. Also, the current business model is much simpler regarding the operation and I would relax a little bit during the summer and I have more time to spend with my 8-year-old daughter. They all say the Montreal summer is very short and much appreciated. With less business and more time on my hands I started shooting videos of my project “Eat With The Owner”. So far I have three episodes already with guests Mical Moser, Heidi Small and Angie Ye. Each video is about 2-hour long and it’s about eating and sharing our stories. Everything is in the video from beginning to the end, real stuff. The quality of the video is kind of amateur but I don’t have time or budget to make it look pro and in my opinion it’s unnecessary to be aesthetic since the real stories and real interactions are the most important.

Here are the YouTube videos on my channel.

But things change.

Last Sunday I was told by different friends who process importation from China that the cost of shipping from China went up 4 to 5 times. And when I bought vinegar and cooking wine from C&T the price was increased a lot and they told me the price would go up even higher in the coming months because of the shipping cost. 

As a Chinese restaurant we use a lot of ingredients imported from China,  cost of shipping!!!

This made me think really hard for a long time.

I did a lot of mathematics in my head.

Every order we do with delivery companies they charge us 25% to 30%, with a huge hike in cost of ingredients it would not make sense for us to rely on the deliveries and we have to change.

To counter the cost increase some friends recommended raising prices on the menu but with fewer people downtown and more restaurants open I don’t have the confidence to raise prices. 

We have to increase the ratio of dine-in/pickup in the total sales to keep the gross profit rate at a feasible level.

We always had customers come to ask if we were open for dine-in and we had to turn them away before. Starting last Sunday afternoon, we let them in as long as they agreed to eat with the takeout containers we provided since we didn’t have our plates yet. And we called it picnik style. Sunday we had some very happy customers eating inside which was really nice.

The picnic mode lasted two days till several customers complained that we should provide them plates.

We had an internal discussion and we had to change again, so since past Wednesday July 20th we started accepting dine-in fully. Customers were happy and we had to pick up the memory of how to run the front of the house again. It was long long time ago.

But we have to keep this as a secret because we can’t have too many customers at the same time. It’s a perfect dilemma, we want a lot of customers to survive but we cannot handle all of them because it’s very difficult to find staff.

After 18 months of lockdown, a lot of small restaurants barely survived financially. 

Sales went down and the cost of ingredients went up hugely.

Super difficult to find staff, pay more to find people?

Simple mathematics?

Maybe this is the worst time to be a restaurant owner.

But I have to keep working hard since I have a family to support.

For all the leaders out there, please think about the situations for small business owners and try to recover the economy or at least don’t pour oil on the fire.

C’mon Man!

At the same time, let’s keep this as a secret. 

So for now, we adopt the policy “ask, tell”, “come, eat”.

Hope we can keep a good balance and we are good at walking on tightrope anyway, right?

Vegetable oil price at Costco

Today June 7 2021, Montreal pandemic level is lowered into orange zone from red which means restaurants can open for customers to dine in.

After 15 months of doing takeout and delivery only, I kind of forgot how to open up the restaurants for dine-in. It’s like being in the darkness for so long, first contact with light, I have to take some time to adjust my eyes, a lot of uncertainty. We choose NOT to open for dine-in now but may open later in the near future.

I would take some time to look back at the pandemic in Montreal. From the stats in Quebec, it looks like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With the help of vaccination progress, the hospitalization and ICU cases have been dropping for a lot of days. Hope the situation will get better and better.

For more than 15 months, people are deprived of the much needed human connections, it’s very brutal. Small businesses are forced to close or severely impacted. Behind every small business there is at least one family.

As a business owner I feel the pain on food prices. The price for 16L vegetable oil at Costco was 17.99 last year and now it’s 34.99. 

Everytime I leave Costco, I have the same amount of stuff but a much larger bill.

Combined with high commission rates from delivery companies I could tell a lot of small businesses are bleeding.

Now with permission to dine-in, a lot of restaurants may face another tough issue, very difficult to find more staff. For the pandemic, the government is paying people to stay at home and less people are willing to come out to work.

Higher cost of ingredients, higher cost of commission, higher cost of wages, difficult to hire staff, restricted dine-in, less customers, simple math, right?

How to really help restaurants? It’s not difficult to figure out, right?

In a market system, the price is pretty much decided by demand and supply, the government should understand that as well, right?

If nobody produces goods or services, nothing is available to people, right?

Our restaurant has been open for takeout and delivery all the time during this pandemic, we are doing our fair share. 

I hope the government can really dig into the basics to find out who is producing the food, how much do they grow, what is the difficulty for them, who are transporting them, they have the baseline from history stats already, how to reduce the cost to bring the food to people, how to fight this inflation. We need actions instead of pretty words.

Another month passed before I posted this blog and today is July 9th. And I can say for sure I have a time management issue which I tried to improve and failed a lot of times already. I won’t give up on this front but I won’t beat myself up on this issue since nobody is perfect at the end of the day, right? I try to be funny but actually I may NOT be funny but at least I am trying. Also I am trying to be as truthful as I can be which does NOT mean I am 100% honest.

As my new attempt I made a first long interview with Mical Moser in my series “Eat with the owner”. It’s unedited 150-minute long video, here is the YouTube video.

It may prove that I am honest and boring and I like people sharing their stories in front of a camera unedited unprepared but this may be unfocused, ending up wasting the audience’s time since time is so rare in this fast paced internet era. I am still debating if it’s a good idea to keep this way.

One thing I won’t change is that I intend to keep things as real as possible so my videos may NOT appear good/quality to some people.

Like running my restaurant business I have to be realistic and keep things to my own standards even though sometimes I have to give up some obvious opportunities.

You cannot have both ways if you want to be yourself and sometimes you have to compromise based on realities. 

Back to the restaurant business, it’s been more than 1 month since the Quebec government allowed dine-in at restaurants and we have seen our business decline a little bit, which is expected. In the last and this summer, without tourists and some restaurants open up for dine-in, we expect less business in the summer.

Some customers call us to ask if we are open for dine-in and some also come in to ask but I don’t expect a lot of customers to eat in our restaurant. First, there are a lot of restaurants open now and much less customers in the downtown area thus the competition will be crazy. Secondly, our restaurant was not VERY busy before the pandemic and I don’t expect it to be busy now even though we were reported by a lot of big name media in January 2021.

After January we saw a big increase in customers after media reports and the sales came back down to the level before or maybe slightly better. This means we did not keep a lot of new customers and at the same time it proves that I was right saying “we are NOT that good”.

Anyway, I am still trying to improve our restaurant even though it may not become THAT good.

I try to update this blog as often as possible and hope readers can subscribe to my YouTube channel and recommend more people to join my “Eat with the owner” interviews.

P.S. The vegetable oil price at Costco jumped to 37.49 that’s more than doubled than 17.99 before the pandemic, WHAT THE HELL!

Justin Trudeau, C’mon man!

My personal Youtube channel:




Have you eaten?

(Photo credit to documentary film maker Joshua Frank)

This is a common greeting from my hometown in China. When I was a kid in a village in the 1980s, I heard people asking “Have you eaten?” everyday. When we saw anyone passing our house my parents or grandparents would shout “have you eaten?” to them and most times we would get an answer “yes”, it’s like a shouting challenge especially when they were a little bit far. When it’s lunch time or supper time, if the answer was “no” we would invite them to eat at our house and most of them would say “thank you and I need to go home eat, my wife and kids are waiting for me, maybe the food is ready.” I did see several times some strangers especially beggars from other poorer areas were invited to eat with us. My grandpa was excited to talk to these strangers since he said he visited their hometowns when he was a guerilla fighter fighting against invading Japanese imperial army. 

In the old times, people were really worried about their food supply and they wished the most important priority for each other. It was a beautiful greeting.

This greeting is not only popular in my hometown and when I grew up and expanded my connections to people from everywhere in China I found a lot of them have the same greeting. But for sure this greeting is not as formal as “Ni Hao” and people in big cities are saying less and less.

But for my village, this greeting is still going on strong like other traditions. Especially for my mom, this greeting is her favorite.

My mom was very straight forward with very few words and she needed those words I guess. 

Before I got married, whenever I  called her, she would start with “have you eaten?”, after that she would search for words or pass the phone to my father.

After I got married, her question became “Is she pregnant?”

Every phone call started with this question. But after some phone calls we did have our first baby girl. Sometimes I did think her strong will forced a miracle baby.

After the baby was borned she changed the question to “Is she pregnant again?, you need more kids when you are old”

I explained to her that we would not have a second child many many times and finally she gave up asking.

Ever since then, her question has changed back to “have you eaten?”

I love her so much.

She taught me to be kind and patient. Perseverance is very important in my whole life and that’s what she gave me.

Best mom you could ever dreamed of having.

She is a little bit older than 70 now. She didn’t have a chance to learn how to read or write when she was young. She is a life-long christian and that helps her to pass a lot of hard times. After I could read some words I did help to read Bible stories to her, I was a good son, right?

She is a very traditional Chinese woman and my father is very smart and makes all big decisions for the family. In some way, my mom listens to my father almost 100 percent, they complement each other very well. This reminds me of a very famous Korean sitcom called “what is love” in 1990s, here is the link ( The husband asks his wife to repeat after him saying “the earth is square” to show she obeys to him.  Every time the wife said or did something the husband did not like, he would ask her to say “the earth is square”. So, at the end, WHAT is LOVE?

She worked all her life non stop. In her youth she worked too hard on the farming and bent her back and she had a huge hump on her back since then. Two years ago I took my 6-year old daughter Allison to my village for the first time. Allison asked me why grandma was so small I told her that’s the sacrifice for one generation to the other. Every time I think of that my eyes would wet a little bit. Kids see everything and tell what they see, right? I guess I over talked to my baby girl.

My mom is kind of scared of my authoritarian father. She did have some moments that I remember dearly, sweet revenges. She made fun of my father several times and she laughed into tears and my father was amused too. I guess you can poke the bear if the bear is in a good mood.

Since I have two old brothers my mom raised me like a daughter to help her on knitting and doing other things girls would help the parents.

I always think my personality is like water, in the famous Chinese classic literature “Dream of the red chamber”, here is the link

In the book it says men are like mud, women are like water. I like that a lot! Shape of water, always adapting and changing, strength through softness.

I always miss my mom but every time I call her, she would still say “have you eaten?”. Ironically I have a Chinese restaurant of my own, that question should be self-explanatory, right?

Wife and husband small business!

(photo credit to Joshua Frank, documentary film maker)

During the pandemic I spend 7 days a week in our restaurant and I worked a lot of hours side by side with my wife. We spend way too much time together, is that a good thing, or maybe not? Before we started this restaurant seven years ago some of my friends with small business experiences warned me about the relationship between husband and wife. They told me several couples ended up divorcing because of all the pressures and different opinions on everyday small decisions.   

For our business, in the first couple of years, when you stay in the restaurant to see only few customers in a whole day and you worry about the business future you just could not escape that uneasy feelings. Once in a while we will have a lot of customers in a day and we were happy but since we didn’t have enough staff according to the usual number of customers, or it’s the nature of our restaurant, it was difficult to handle a sudden burst of orders. our kitchen or waitresses may make some mistakes and customers were unhappy. You would be super tired and a little bit upset about the mistakes. I am pretty tough and thick skinned but I felt pretty bad to have my wife going through all these torments. I felt the gut feeling myself many many times. That’s why when we had a very bad business in Anjou restaurant I never wanted my wife to work in that restaurant for a single day, as an owner, having no customers is like a torture. Going through all these is not easy on us and especially we have a lot of daily small decisions to make and it is difficult for husband and wife to maintain a good relationship.

Luckily my wife and myself have been together since our university time and we went through a lot of bumps already. We have already fought our fights long before. Both of us worked extremely hard so we won’t allow some mood swings to undo what we have done so diligently.

My habit of telling jokes and self mocking helped a lot on this front. Sometimes before a difference in decisions could become a heating point I would take the approach of “flying low near the ground”, this is like cruise missiles, they fly so low adapting to terrain to avoid radar detection. She even joked saying “you have wings”. People say giving wind, pigs can fly so can I. It’s been successful for me to have a good relationship with my wife. The family is too important for me to care about my own feelings. Also after the moments of tension we are back happy again.

I do caution couples of running a small business together. If you could avoid it please do otherwise please be as Zen as possible. I think family is the most important stuff in our life, sometimes the other pursuing is just NOT worth it.

Only thing that is bothering me is that I talk too much even sometimes I was telling funny things to cheer her up. She just had enough and literally told me to “shut up”, OK, it’s like the famous YouTube clip (I share the link below), Charlie bit me it really hurts!

My personal Youtube channel:




The Seven Year Itch

(Photo credit to Edouard Plante-Frechette From La Presse)

Now, it’s midnight of Feb 2nd 2021, in three days Cuisine AuntDai will be SEVEN years old. What a journey, the good, the bad and the ugly. Very itchy!

On Feb 5th 2014 we had our first baby steps from zero. I did not know anything about business and restaurant. I did buy a book called “Canaidan Small Business Kit for dummies” and I read it from the first page to the last one.

The original plan was that my wife would work in the restaurant full time for free. Since I had a full time IT job so if the restaurant would break even in the first couple of years, we would be OK financially. Then with the experience of running a restaurant I was thinking we would have a good chance to survive.

We paid 60K dollars for the existing restaurant and it was ready to operate. I took a home-line-credit loan of 75K from the bank. Hope the extra 15K would be enough before the restaurant could break even.

During the day I went to the office working as an IT engineer and After 5PM I would take the metro directly to the restaurant to serve a waiter or help in the kitchen.

The first few days were exciting and full of daylight dreams. But the following weeks I realized that it was very difficult to attract customers. I was trying a lot of tricks to get more customers to increase our sales especially among Chinese customers. Since it’s not easy to find free parking near the restaurant at Cote-des-Neiges. Sometimes I had to ask the customers to sit in first and I would go out parking for them. After some time, I was very familiar with the CRAZY Montreal parking signs. To make things easier, I made a detailed diagram to show how many free parking spaces on different sections of each street during different time periods. I posted that free parking guide online, I was an engineer and making information transparent and easy to access is my specialty. 

With all these efforts, the first two months we didn’t have enough customers and I had to borrow another 15K dollars from the bank and the total loan was 90K, that was a very high number for my family to absorb especially when the future of the restaurant was really bleak.

It was a cruciating time, one day, we had only 6 customers in total, I remember that day forever, I was expecting the last straw to fall on my back any moment from that day.

For the first month, almost every night I worked till 1 o’clock. One weekend I was working overnight for my IT job, it was network maintenance during Saturday night. I didn’t sleep that night at all. Sunday morning I went directly from the office to the restaurant and worked all day. After I closed for the day, I was driving back home. I was so exhausted and I remember that I drove out from the back alley and local roads and then onto highway 15, after that I could not remember anything till I drove my car into a concrete lamp post. The airbag popped out and I had cuts on my lips and the lamp post fell. I was OK miraculously. After highway 15 I was on highway 40 and had to turn left onto a overhead bridge and it was a snowy night, if it’s more than 30 KM/H for that left turn I would fly off that bridge, I guess there must be a god guiding me off the highway 40 and that crucial left turn. Only after another left turn, one block from my house my car finally lost control, the car was a total loss. My loss of memory before the crash could be the result of the impact. That time, my Chevy Cobalt was on a one way insurance and the insurance company paid the lamp post damage (about 5000 dollars) to the city, they did not pay for my car but I was lucky that I was still alive. After that close call I was always very careful about fatigue driving, you can never play with your luck twice.

That luck during the accident did not bring me luck on restaurant business. The tormenting days kept on. In July 2014, five months after we opened our business, we were reported by Montreal Gazette, here is the article link

That article brought us some more customers and I finally saw a glimpse of hope. After that we either broke even or only lost a little bit of money and I saw some fleeting light at the end of the tunnel.

I spent more time talking to customers and also shot a lot of introduction videos for some dishes. Some customers came to help us shooting videos for free, Gwayne, Alexandre, Sergio and our beloved waitress Sophie. It was a great time and a lot of fun. You can find those videos on the YouTube channel

Looking back at those early videos I am moved by our early stories.

Then a breakthrough came in March 2015, about 14 months from the beginning of this journey. CTV News Montreal audience voted AuntDai as the number 1 best Chinese restaurant in Montreal and they came to interview us. After the interview was aired on TV. You can find the video on CTV website here.

Right after that moment we had so many customers and I never saw that many customers for the first several days. I was too excited and I made a big mistake, being greedy. 

We seated all the customers but we could not handle the workload. A lot of customers were waiting for more than one hour and the food quality became less. Even when I hired new people, they were not trained and the kitchen was a total mess. I made a lot of customers mad. I acted like someone never seeing this much money to grab, looking back I see I was so naive and silly. But, hey, I will not be hard on myself, I am allowed to make mistakes even it was a big one.

After the several days of craziness the business came down alot from the peak because we handled it very poorly but it stayed at a comfortable level. From that moment that small restaurant of 40 seats was profitable. 

From March 2015 and March 2017, it was a good time, working hard but happy. 

For that period of time, I had a full time IT job and a profitable small restaurant.

Some customers liked us and the way we were doing restaurant business.

But keeping improving is my nature.

At the end of March 2017, I took a week off from my IT job and closed the restaurant for that week to do a makeover. I worked with several teams day and night to renovate the dining room, kitchen and basement storage room. I worked 20 hours a day and I put all my strength to pull that off. 

I wrote a blog about that renovation.

After that renovation, I felt very good about the business and another HUGE mistake was about to be made.

I thought my business model was good and people loved the brand “AuntDai”.

I opened a new restaurant in Anjou (East of Montreal island). 

I spent about 2 weeks renovating the new restaurant and rushed to open it on June 1st 2017 since it’s children’s day and my lucky day too. I was superstitious.

Because of all the reasons that I know now, that Anjou restaurant was a total failure and I explained that in my Chinese blogs. It was bleeding money all the time but I was using the profit of the Cote-des-Neiges restaurant to offset the loss hoping one day the Anjou one would turn around.

Then a fire destroyed our profitable Cote-des-Neiges restaurant on Oct 1st 2017. On that early Sunday morning I just finished the first half of the soccer game, I received a call from the landlord about the fire. It was a total loss, to make it worse, our insurance was a minimum one. I got almost nothing from the insurance company, first business ever for me, lack of experience costs me dearly.

That was a sad period of time.

Then we decided to open a new one downtown, our current location. I settled at a price with a restaurant owner to take over the space and I had to borrow money from the bank, starting over. Again I rushed to renovate for about two weeks and we opened our business on Dec 30th 2017 just to make sure we will have a new restaurant before the end of 2017, I had to have a good note for 2017.

So, the year 2017 is the most memorable year for me, I renovated three restaurants, lost a profitable one, opened a wrong one in Anjou, and started a new one downtown.

What a year for me!

I felt I used all my strength and youth, suddenly tireless myself started feeling the heaviness on my body, I am not that young anymore. I took advantage of my body too much.

With our existing customer base or accumulated name recognition, the downtown restaurant started well. The profit was used to fill the deficit of the Anjou restaurant and I spent some money to improve the downtown restaurant little by little. Over the course of a year and half I totally replaced all the furniture on the first and second floors. Our interior designer TongChun Chen helped on the design, Birch hall on the second floor, one office room, one lounge area, overall style. The downtown restaurant was beautiful.

At the same time, the Anjou restaurant was still bleeding money. After long consideration I decided to put it for sale in March 2019. The sale dragged on for six months, one mistake after another, in September 2019 I even renovated the Anjou restaurant and renamed it to “Lotus D’Anjou” to restart, like rebooting a computer, again I was so naive and too insistent. Sometimes never giving up is a curse on me. 

The restart as “Lotus D’Anjou” was going OK with Chinese customers in the region. Then the Covid happened and news came to Canada at the end of January 2020. I saw the sharp drop on the burgeoning sales and I pulled the plug right ways.  closed the Anjou restaurant for good.  I tried to give away the restaurant to stop the bleeding. When the pandemic was declared on March 11th 2020. My hope to find a new owner to take over the Anjou restaurant is diminishing everyday.

To make things worse, at the end of April I was laid off from my full time IT job.

Why do you test my mental strength this much?

Then my lucky moment finally came in July 2020 when two partners agreed to take over the restaurant on the condition of me paying them extra money to cover the first few months rent. It was a fair deal for me to get rid of the unknown infinite financial burden. 

That heavy weight off my back was the happiest moment during this damn pandemic!

After that I was focusing solely on the downtown restaurant and I believed if I worked hard enough I should be able to go through this uncertain time.

Then fate just showed me another twist, this time, it’s for my favor.

On Jan 10 2021, a tweet from Kim Belair @BagelofDeath changed everything for me. I was interviewed by a lot of big name media and my twitter account @FeigangFei got a lot of followers and a lot of people started reading my blogs. We have a lot more sales than before and everything looks great for me.

Please keep reading the previous blogs to know the history of our restaurant and my personal journey.

Now it’s about 2 o’clock in the morning and you can see I am very excited. I work extremely hard to keep the business alive. It also took a lot of luck.

Seven years for Cuisine AuntDai, it’s quite a journey, no matter what happens in the future, I already appreciate these experiences.

I am never afraid of failure and I will happily accept the result of being a loser after putting up all my strength for a good fight.

Hope my story is not boring you that much.

Keep smiling, don’t be serious!




My obsession of learning English

(Photo credit to Pierre Obendrauf, photograhper from Montreal Gazette)

Now it’s Thursday noon Jan 28th. I don’t feel like cutting vegetables and want to take a break, maybe a great time to write a blog.

As an immigrant I have been encouraged by a lot of people saying my English is good, I am still trying to improve my English everyday.

In my university time (1997 to 2001), we had to pass grade-4 to get a bachelor degree and if you could pass grade-6, it surely would help you find a good job. I remember I passed the grade-4 test with a score of 67.5. I was trying to memorize a lot of words by reading a vocabulary book called “Liu Yi 5000 words”. Then I met my wife (she was my first and only girlfriend), insteading memorizing new words, we went out dating a lot. Meeting my wife is the luckiest thing ever happened to me which cured my inferiority feelings. That story will be saved for another blog article later. That time I was thinking, I don’t need to pass the grade-6 test, they say the 21-st century will be the century of China, I guess a lot of foreigners will be able to speak Chinese and I don’t need to good at English, like American don’t need to learn Chinese or French or Spanish, after 20 years, English is still the most common language between different countries, damn, I was wrong then.

In 2002, I was sent to Egypt on a business trip by my first employer. When I was talking to our Egyptian customers I felt my English was OK. I guess English was the second language for both sides and we slowed down and used signs to make it easier. After the Egyptian trip I felt pretty confident about my English.

Then I had a business trip to London, UK. I was taking over a project from a colleague so I inherited the contact cell phone for the project. Maybe on the second day, I received a phone call and the person on the other end said something too quickly for me, I said “pardon”, he repeated and I still could not understand his words and I said “pardon” again, he explained again, I had to say “pardon” again, he just hanged up. At the end, I still could not figure out who called and what the phone call was about. I even didn’t know whether the call was for my project. My senior colleague even sneered at me after seeing that. He said “your English is so poor how can you do this project here?” I felt so humiliated and I swore I had to improve my English. After that I went to a local shop and bought a portable radio and everywhere I went I was listening to BBC radio.

After the UK trip I went back to Shenzhen, China and I tried reading a lot of English books whenever I got some time.

After my English was improved I did a better job in my following overseas business trips. Also it helped me to see the world differently, a new world was right in front of me and I was so curious about this new world and I spent a lot of time reading CNN articles and Wikipedia pages to learn what’s happening in the world.

When I immigrated to Canada through the “skilled worker” program I was OK with English. Being in North America gave me a lot more chances to improve my English. I watched a lot American shows on Netflix and also I watched a lot of NBA live games by subscribing to “NBA league pass”. I just love Jeff Van Gundy much more as an ESPN commentator than as a NBA coach. He is excellent as a commentator, that beautiful voice and professional knowledge about basketball. After Michael Jordan, Kobe is my most respected and admired player with his fighting spirit, so inspiring. Sadly, his accident is a huge loss for NBA fans in the worst year 2020. I can comment on a lot of NBA players and I like Stephen Curry a lot too, not so much on some other big names.

On my commuter train trips between home and downtown office I always read a book. I must say kudos to libraries in Montreal and all of them are so so so great. I have read all three Twilight books, any popular book will help me especially those with modern story setup. I can learn a lot of English that can be used in daily life. With due respect to those authors I think everyday soap books are perfect for English learning, the more popular the better. I even don’t feel bad to admit I read the book “fifty shades of grey”. To practice listening and speaking I watched all episodes of “the desperate housewives”, the dialogues are very clear and full of real life scenes and it’s best for English learning. Even though “friends” are number one shows for me I watched it many times but the dialogue is too fast and contains too many slangs and expressions, not easy for English learners.

As I said before my goal is to improve my English to the point that I can write a book about my personal story, I went through a lot of life-changing events and they were worth recording even for a nobody person like me. Life is like a book and when your time is up your book is closed. I need to open a book before my book is closed.

Recently I had a lot of media interviews and a lot of people are reading my blogs. This encourages me to write more blogs I hope readers can share my blogs to more people.

Will you still love me tomorrow? Solute The Shirelles.

Learning English is a lifelong journey which is a blessing for me.

Doesn’t matter how slow it is, I always try to better myself till the very end.

Enjoy the time you are given!

My personal Youtube channel:




The darkness before the dawn

(Photo credit to Pierre Obendrauf, photograhper from Montreal Gazette)

This is written on the night of Jan 24th 2021, two weeks after the magical Kim Belair tweet. Suddenly I gained a lot of followers on Twitter and Instagram. Yesterday I released my first personal story video and I am planning to shoot more short videos to tell my stories, some of them may be sad, happy, inspiring or dull. Even though I am a very trivial person, I treasure my  life story in case it could resonate or inform others. Hope people won’t get bored.

Right now, I feel a lot of confidence about the future of Cuisine AuntDai but here I want to share with you the darkness before the dawn, the scariest moment in the business sense.

If you read my blogs before you would know that in June 2017 I opened a second Cuisine AuntDai in the eastern city called Anjou. Because of all the bad business decisions and realities, the Anjou restaurant was losing money from day one. Before the end of year 2019, the profit from the downtown restaurant could make up the loss of the Anjou restaurant so I was hoping the sales in Anjou would eventually go up. Then the COVID-19 hit and I had to close down the Anjou one at the beginning of Feb 2020 to save the cost on staff and I was waiting for someone to take it over. When the pandemic was declared on March 11th, my hope of giving out the Anjou was diminishing everyday. The worst moment came when I was laid off from my full time IT job at the end of April. On that day, everything came to my head, no stable income, Anjou restaurant closed, paying rent and not sure when it would be relieved, also the downtown restaurant was not making money at all, so our savings would keep decreasing. This thought kept me sweating for several nights. But the next morning, with blood shots in my eyes, I had to soldier on and put a smile on my face. I could see my wife was really worried so I had to do a lot of analysis of scenarios for her and draw a possible pretty picture about the future. At the same time, I had to keep my head down and work tireless for many hours a day to save the labor cost. Somehow, over time, we kind of forgot about the possible family bankruptcy. With the pandemic going on, we even could not go to a bar to drink like we used to in 2017 after a fire destroyed our profitable first restaurant at Cote-des-Neiges.

In July 2020, we finally found two people who would take over the Anjou restaurant after we agreed to pay several months of rent for them. Even though we paid the landlord a big lump sum, at least we got rid of the huge burden. In the pandemic that was very lucky for us. Now we could focus on the downtown restaurant only.

My wife and I were really hopeful after removing the Anjou restaurant and we felt more energized to work for our future on the downtown restaurant. The work was hard but we were happy because we knew we would not lose money (or that much money) when both of us work hard.

With the spirit of feeling lucky and appreciating we were surviving during the pandemic we started providing 5 free meals for a small single moms group everyday since Sept 6 2020 and we plan to keep it going forever.

So the end of April, May, June are definitely the scariest moments of our business. 

On a December day, I was in court to challenge a ticket for forgetting vehicle registration for my business car. The reminder letter was sent to my old address which was proven to be the administration’s error not mine. I tried to play the sympathy card by telling the judge that “I lost my job in April and restaurant business is hit hard by COVID and I had to work long hours to save the cost and the ticket of 385 dollars plus 115 dollars contribution fee is too much for me”, as I was saying that argument I could feel my eyes were welling up, I told myself stop being a pitiful soft person, man up. The judge said she understood the hardship on our business but the responsibility of the registration renewal is fully on me since administration does NOT have to mail me the reminder letter, she will judge me guilty but exempt me from paying the 115 dollars contribution fee. I told the judge “I respect your ruling 100%, I totally support the rule of law even though I think the fine is too heavy, thank you”. The judge was really nice and I felt better.

With all these scary times behind us, my wife was asking why I was so calm in May or June. I was scared too but I have a mechanism to deal with pressure and uncertainty. I am always optimistic and I only allow myself panic or worry for a very short time. It’s all trained many times when I was very young. I was born into a very poor family in a rural area in China. From grade one to grade 8 (for 1980’s, I had 5 years in primary school in a village and 3 years of junior high school in a small town), on the first day of school, the teacher in charge would ask “those who has not paid the tuition fees need to stand up”, every year I stood up with different group of poor kids and we were sent home directly and could only return with tuition fees usually borrowed from a relative by myself and my father wouldn’t do that I guess he would lose face to borrow money by himself. My self-esteem was totally destroyed by those teachers over and over. I had to look up to everybody and walk lightly and I became so sensitive and observative. To make myself look not so miserable I always tried to be funny and mocked myself by telling jokes. I guess I would not dare to mock others but only myself unless I wanted to be beaten up. I definitely can trace my personality to those days when I went through all those humiliations. I never knew what was personal PRIDE until I read the book “the stories of the Sahara” from Echo Chen, in the book, when a young girl who stole Echo’s sandals was caught and confronted, the poor girl yelled “you hurt my pride”, from that moment, I knew my PRIDE was lost, I needed to find it back. Everybody has pride doesn’t matter what kind of situation they are in. I was lucky to enter a good university and found a great first job. My PRIDE or self confidence was slowly restored. And since I lost my precious PRIDE when I was very young, I always remind myself to respect the PRIDE of anybody I meet especially those who are in disadvantageous situations like young myself. 

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, that’s my strength.

I have been there and this won’t bother me anymore.

My personal Youtube channel: