Our restaurant name is Asian Taste, and it is located on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is a fast-food restaurant primarily serving the university community.

Since I had no experience in operating restaurants before this, I didn’t even know what kind of menu we should create to get customers to like us. After a week of menu editing, we showed our initial version of the menu; it was simply on printed paper, there were many spelling errors, and it was single-sided in a small size.

Many customers would turn the menu over for more options, and we’d have to explain that, though we have few products, we strive for better quality. Since then, thankfully, our menu has been updated four times and we have formed a very mature product selection. I still keep our first menu with me to remind myself of the difficulty of starting a business. Today, after a lot of work, we have been able to stably provide Asian cuisine to the university community – students, professors, and staff.

Unfortunately, just as we were making the restaurant better, the pandemic hit our business seriously. Our customers are mainly students. The Illinois government and the university took a series of measures to prevent the pandemic from worsening, but they have also caused serious losses to our operations. Our direct loss of sales exceeded 50%. Even under such a difficult situation, I still am working with my family and my employees, we have been continuously operating our restaurants, shutting down our dine in services, transforming food delivery, and encouraging our employees so that they can still have jobs and receive salary to support their families – and so that we could continue to serve our customers and local community.

Chao’s story

My name is Chao. I am an immigrant from China. Before I came to the United States, I was doing the work of managing the quality of auto parts products. In order to help my family and help my kids receive a better
education and a better life, we came to the United States. We are now settled in Champaign, Illinois and are a part of the community. My family and I together took over a restaurant – Asian Taste – in August 2019 and started operating. I am now a small business owner, and this is my first time owning a small business in the United States. Due to my poor English level and lack of management experience, I have worked hard to learn the language and to learn how to operate the restaurant through the community. Our restaurant integrates into our community and gradually makes it better.

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