New range of souvenirs and cultural products available
Computer engineer Ye Rui, 31, sipped coffee as he viewed a painting depicting the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests adorning a wall at a coffee shop in Beijing's Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) Park.
"I don't normally drink coffee, but I felt like having a cup of it on my own at this shop in the grounds of the heritage site," said Ye, who discovered the outlet during one of his regular walks in the park.
Blessing Coffee is just one of the shops selling coffee, tea and creative souvenirs that have opened at Beijing's parks and historical sites.
Li Yan, head of cultural and creative special projects at the Beijing Administration Center of Parks, said instant noodles, sausages and bread used to be standard fare provided in Beijing's parks, while other types of food and drinks were seldom considered.
Maps and small toys also used to be sold in the parks, but now the authorities want to present "attractive, informative, enjoyable and useful" products to improve visitors' experience, she said.
Located near the east gate at Temple of Heaven Park, Blessing Coffee opened to the public in December, and within a month the outlet had ranked fourth on the restaurant and cafe rating platform Dazhong Dianping.
The shop now sells about 300 drinks a day on average. Eleven kinds of specialty and regular coffee and six types of tea are available at the store.
Yang Fei, assistant general manager of the Beijing Cultural and Creative Industry Development Service Co, who founded the coffee house, said it was opened in order for more people to gain a better understanding of the culture at the Temple of Heaven.
"The quintessence of various types of traditional Chinese culture is deeply embedded in ancient sites in Beijing. However, many people are not familiar with this culture, and are only familiar with the appearance of these ancient buildings," Yang said.
The Corner Tower Cafe, Beijing's first cultural heritage coffee house, opened near the north gate to the Palace Museum on Dec 1, 2018. During weekends, crowds gather at the coffee shop to chat and pose for photographs.