Lunar New Year is usually a popular time for dining out as families spread out all over China get together to celebrate. But on the eve of the holiday last year, panic was setting in about a new coronavirus. China instituted strict lockdowns, sending restaurant sales cratering 41% in January and February.
The hotpot, especially, conflicted with so many of the pandemic’s new social rules—it’s a form of dining where large groups dip a variety of veggies and meats into a communal broth. And yet China’s leading hotpot chain, the Hong Kong-listed Haidilao, has seen its stock rise 70% for the year. That’s one of several signs China is coming out on the other side as businesses adapt to the pandemic—though it’s still too early to comfortably rejoice.