Today is Jan 3rd 2022 and I find some time to write this blog.
We are in the third year of this pandemic and Quebec premier François Legault announced the lockdown and curfew on Dec 30th 2021 and took effect on the new year eve. Restaurants have to close the dining room for these new lockdown measures.
It came at the right time of the new year eve which is the busiest time of the year for most restaurants. For our restaurant I would see less income since we still have pickup and delivery. But for those restaurants heavily relying on the dine-in, it could be a huge blow for example the brunch restaurants, all-you-can-eat restaurants and steak-house restaurants. They must have stocked up a lot for their upcoming new year rush hours and a lot of materials would be wasted as well.
I guess the premier was caught by surprise by the development of the Omicron virus and restaurant owners were caught by surprise by the next-day-effective lockdown measures, anyway, that’s the reality of the year 2021.
Here is my reflection of the year 2021.
It started with a lockdown in Quebec without vaccines and ended with a lockdown with vaccines and a record number of positive cases and hospitalizations.
The curfew started at 8PM in January 2021 while it started at 10PM in January 2022, some progress at least, positive thinking!
After New Year’s Day, January usually is a low month for restaurant business and it started that way for us too for early 2021.
Then came the tweet from mighty Kim Belair on January 10th 2021 and this event helped us a lot. Please give Kim a follow on Twitter @BagelofDeath.
I did a lot of media interviews after that tweet and for some time I felt I was famous. A lot of friends gave me advice on how to take advantage of this fleet of fame and make it last much longer.
A lot of ideas were fighting against each other in my head. At the end of epic battles, only one idea stood tall on the field. Try hard to stay true to myself and try NOT to be someone I am really NOT. But this luck did remind me to engage with social media more.
I started over with my YouTube channel(posted a friendly local soccer game several years ago) and Twitter account (used to learn English 10 years ago, deactivated and reactivated recently). I ate every dish on our menu in front of my iPhone to explain them and these videos are on my YouTube channel and each individual video link was put in the description of that dish on the online menu.
By theory customers would be able to know exactly what each dish would look or taste like and they could have more chances to enjoy the food after checking the videos before ordering them.
Throughout eight years of running this restaurant I have had chances to meet a lot of great customers, great people. Some conversations make me appreciate more and more peoples’ stories including my own. Being an immigrant from China I have a lot of interesting memories about my past and living in Montreal is a great experience for me.
I want to record original stories from a lot of people in Montreal, anyone who has any connections to Montreal, visitors, travelers, recent immigrants, citizens are welcomed to be part of my video series “Eat With The Owner”. We will eat and chat for about 2.5 hours (or any length you like), no cutting or editing to the video and we keep it very original.
Our first guest Mical Moser joined the video on June 28th 2021 and in the past 6 months we have had 22 guests already. I am so lucky to be able to know them and record their stories on video. This is a huge achievement for me and I am so grateful that many people are willing to share their stories with me in front of a camera. I hope in the future I can interview a lot more people in Montreal and together we can make a mosaic of the experience of Montreal.
As a Chinese restaurant owner, I experienced a lot of business struggles in the past (and ongoing) and I can totally relate to the hardship of some of my fellow restaurant owners. In the year 2021 I promoted several local restaurants on my social media and I will keep doing that and support local businesses.
In the past year, I spent most of my time cutting vegetables and listening to podcasts at the same time. Taking orders and packing food. From the end of July to the end of December 2021(lockdown), when our dining room was open for the first time since March 2020, I often worked as a waiter inside the restaurant.
I guess by listening to podcasts and shooting “Eat With The Owner” videos with guests I improved my English a lot.
Also I spent some time self learning French.
And our restaurant is NOT bankrupt yet.
I think I had an OK year in 2021.
Somehow I am not too excited about the year 2022 and I didn’t post new year greetings or resolutions on social media. Maybe I am tired, physically and mentally.
I just realized that I now have an answer to the question I am often asked, what is my favourite dish at Cuisine AuntDai?
For the traditional Chinese dishes, I would pick “Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Potato noodles” aka “Hong Shao Rou”, here is the video, please do watch it before you order it.
For the Canadian Chinese dishes, I would recommend “General Tao Chicken”, no AKA.
Here is the video, still recommend you watch it since we may have a different version from other Chinese restaurants.
Here are the new episodes of “Eat With The Owner”.
For those who wonder if the dog in the picture is mine. I have to point it out that we met at a farm for the first time in the summer of 2021. The dog was so friendly and all over me right after we saw each other. Sometimes I hope people are friendly and passionate like that too. Ohh, little bit less!