A fast-food steamed-bun Chinese-restaurant chain has had soaring sales after the nation’s president stopped in for an impromptu meal over the weekend. After Xi Jinping came for a quick and cheap meal of steamed pork buns and some stew, lines at one of the Beijing locations have been out the door, prompting owners to want to open more of the stores.
According to Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League, the Qingfeng company has seen a surge of franchise applications. The star power and media attention brought by Xi, and the viral posts on Chinese social media that followed, have many entrepreneurs looking to invest directly in the restaurant company, by opening up branches of their own. According to Taiwan-based news site, Want China Times, a Qingfeng official said that each applicant has to front 320,000 yuan, or roughly $52,850, just to join the chain, in addition to anywhere from 700,000 to 800,000 yuan ($115,000 to $132,000) for initial investment and the price of monthly store rental costs.
The restaurant chain has responded to the high demand of franchise investments by simplifying the application process by allowing people to apply directly through its website. One current owner of a Qingfeng restaurant said that his branch cost him more than 1.2 million yuan, approximately $200,000, to open his outlet, and pay for employee wages, raw materials and the monthly rent.
Xi’s lunch break at Qingfeng created a lot of buzz, and even coined the restaurant's first unofficial combination meal, dubbed the "Xi combo," which features the president’s order of six steamed pork buns, a veggie side dish and a pig liver stew, all for 21 yuan, or $3.50. The presidential visit generated so much attention at the particular Beijing branch that staff members from other stores came in to help manage the large crowds and orders.