GUANGZHOU — Neville Caesar, a businessman from Turkiye, has just had a busy Spring Festival at his restaurant in a bustling business district in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
During the holiday, his restaurant, MADO, welcomed around 10,000 patrons, over 20 percent more than during the same period last year.
"China's COVID response adjustment has had a very positive impact on the food business. We can see more customers in the restaurant enjoying our dishes," Caesar said.
Chinese people, especially the younger generation, are more willing to try foreign cuisine and love to explore food, he added.
Mo Ruirui, who runs a bar nearby, is a regular at MADO. Ordering a cup of Turkish coffee and enjoying a leisurely afternoon has become an important Spring Festival ritual each year.
"Apart from when I'm on business trips, I've been coming here three or four times a week since the restaurant opened in 2017," Mo said, adding that she has tried almost all the dishes at MADO and hopes to visit Turkiye this year for a more authentic cultural experience.
Though now a successful restaurant owner, Caesar didn't enter the food business until 2007, when he started working at his brother's restaurant, The Sultan, which is located in the same area.
As an important gateway to China for the world, Guangzhou is not only home to the renowned Canton Fair, but also to a number of other exhibitions throughout the year. Caesar said that with increasing international exchange and cooperation in recent years, more and more customers have visited his restaurant.
"The Sultan was first opened to offer visitors from Turkiye a place to taste the authentic flavor of home, but over time it has become popular with other foreigners, as well as Chinese people," he said.
With the restaurant's growing popularity, Caesar's business career in China is growing. The Sultan has expanded to other cities, including Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Chengdu in Sichuan province, and Caesar has plans to open more MADO branches in other cities.
Caesar introduced Turkiye's famous ice cream and pastry brand MADO to China and opened a flagship store in Guangzhou in 2017. He now operates five branches across the country.
Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Turkiye have become more closely involved in terms of economy and trade, and more products from Turkiye have appeared on Chinese tables.
"We plan to open branches of MADO in Shenzhen and Shanghai this year. With our business expanded to more cities, we can help more people sample the authentic flavors of Turkiye," Caesar said.