Fu Niu Tang
Summer and her husband started their business after graduating from college. They opened up a Hunan restaurant in Shunde, Guangdong, becoming quite famous as Hunan cuisine was not common in the area. She has had a fruitful career in China’s catering industry, later opening three restaurants in Guangzhou. Summer, her husband and her family later immigrated to the United States in 2014. After eating at many restaurants across Silicon Valley, she has found that many of the Chinese restaurants still taste…American.
“Fu Niu Tang was founded not because of economic pressure but rather simply because we wished to eat authentic food in the United States. We also hope to see our entrepreneurial dream in the United States come true. Profits will never come first with us, we will never cut our ingredients for the sake of profits. My husband is from Hengyang, Hunan and he cooks a special authentic Hunan rice noodle. We want to do our best to provide Chinese people in the United States with food that tastes like home.”
The first Fu Niu Tang was officially opened in Sunnyvale, San Francisco CA in April of 2015. After just six months, the restaurant was already quite successful. Summer has hosted many celebrities and even Hunan Television came to conduct secret interviews. Food has an ability to bring people together, after eating Fu Niu Tang noodles many diners have fallen in love with Hunan cuisine. Now Fu Niu Tang is one of the favorite restaurants of engineers in Silicon Valley and Summer was able to open a second and even third restaurant.
Then, in March of 2020, in order to keep employees and themselves safe, Fu Niu Tang closed for three months at the height of the pandemic. During this time, Summer set up a take out platform for the restaurant which cultivated its own fan-base and they were able to equip three vehicles to deliver meals. Then Fu Niu Tang adapted their menu, removing expensive dishes that were not designed for takeout.
The chefs and staff at Fu Niu Tang have been reorganized and streamlined, with labor cost being reduced to the greatest extent. Three months later, upon reopening, Fu Niu Tang appeared in front of everyone with a new look. Food delivery ranges from the South Bay of Silicon Valley to the Central Peninsula, East Bay and San Francisco, serving many diners who live far away through MenuSifu’s online order and WeChat.
“Before the pandemic, MenuSifu was just a computer POS supplier for us. Julia from the MenuSifu sales team is very good and taught me how to use Facebook and how to convert platforms like Instagram and Google. I am grateful that the MenuSifu team did not charge any fees throughout the process. Orders through the MenuSifu online order platform does not take commission with a service fee of only one dollar. Other platforms charge 20-30% of the cost.”
Several Chinese mothers in Silicon Valley created a Meals with Love organization to deliver lunch and dinner to medical staff. Fu Niu Tang was a part of the organization and donated more than 1,000 lunch boxes one after the other. Later on, Summer received many letters thanking them with California State Assembly member Kansen Chu and his wife also sending certificates of merit. “Everyone was very moved, we have set an example for Chinese people and new immigrants.”
“I also encourage my old guests and friends to join us and show love together. Public opinion at that time was not very friendly towards Chinese people, as people know, but everyone still donated masks and lunch boxes which has helped establish a very positive image for Chinese people in the United States. The fan base has also exploded, we have been able to open five large groups as many people find that Fu Niu Tang not only brings great dishes but many other positive things. It has been great for the improvement of our brand.”
Many guests have actively helped Fu Niu Tang by donating money and lunch boxes along with lots of tips. The most received was a 100$ check which Summer has said she still keeps today. “I hope we can persevere and come back to eat together. These things warm my heart, Chinese people are very united during this time.”
The pandemic has shown us a lot of things that we usually ignore, such as the kindness and mutual assistance of customers and society. A long time ago, many Chinese people who opened restaurants in the United States were doing so to make a living. They were immersed in their work everyday, ignoring the contributions they made to their community! There are many good things all around.
“This pandemic has made us realize that in addition to catering, we also represent the Chinese community so that everyone can see that Chinese restaurants are not just about cooking but also bring a great influence to everyone.”