Restaurant Apologizes for Weighing Customers, Recommending Menu Items After Results

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A restaurant in China has apologized for asking customers to weigh themselves under a controversial policy created in response to a national campaign against food waste.

Customers of the Chuiyan Fried Beef restaurant in the city of Changsha were asked to stand on scales prior to entry and scan their data into an app that gave food recommendations based on the customer’s weight and the dish’s calorific value, according to Agence France-Presse.

The restaurant also displayed signs reading “be thrifty and diligent, promote empty plates” and “operation empty plate.”

It received swift backlash on the social media platform Weibo, and the restaurant said it was “deeply sorry” for its actions.

“Our original intentions were to advocate stopping waste and ordering food in a healthy way,” the restaurant said.

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“We never forced customers to weigh themselves.”

The restaurant was responding to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s nationwide call to stop wasting food; the coronavirus pandemic and serious flooding in the country have led to a rise in food prices in the communist country.

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“Though China has reaped a bumper grain harvest for years, it is still necessary to have the awareness of a food security crisis,” Xi said, according to the state-run China News Service.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has sounded the alarm for us.”

Wuhan’s dining industry association advised restaurants to design smaller-portion dishes, provide takeaway boxes for leftovers and develop a strategy to encourage customers to order fewer dishes, China News Service reported.

The strategy thus far has been fairly successful, with some restaurants rebounding better from the coronavirus pandemic.

“After we introduced single-person or small servings, we started receiving more take-out orders and our dine-in services have rebounded to 90 percent of the pre-epidemic level,” the manager of Mystic South-Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine said.

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The new strategy also allows smaller groups to dine out because sharing large dishes used to be the norm.

“Customers can now enjoy four to five [smaller] dishes at the price of two [larger] dishes,” Liu Guolian, the president of the dining industry association, said.

“This will help restaurants win back consumers who have been accustomed to cooking and dining at home.”

Restaurants have also limited the number of diners at each table to four, so smaller dishes could better accommodate smaller groups.

“The introduction of smaller dishes is very timely, and I can now enjoy more dishes each tie,” hotpot buff Wang Xue said. “It makes me more willing to go to restaurants.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith