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Global hot pot giant nears Burnaby restaurant opening despite company’s turmoil

Parent company closing hundreds of restaurants around the world, but expanding locally.
Hai Di Lao
A world-famous hot pot restaurant is opening its first Burnaby location at Brentwood mall.

Plans to open a hot pot restaurant in Burnaby’s Amazing Brentwood shopping mall look to be a go despite its parent company undergoing turmoil around the world.

One of China's most popular hot pot chains, Haidilao, had planned to shut down more than 300 stores by the end of 2021, but it doesn’t seem to have affected its Metro Vancouver expansion plans.

Haidilao already operates in Richmond and Vancouver, and has a large space it is working on in Brentwood, including new signage that has been put up on the outer windows located next to the mall’s skybridge that connects the new section of the mall with the old one and the Tables food court. 

News about the company closing hundreds of its outlets went viral on Chinese social media Weibo (also known as the Chinese version of Twitter). The hotpot chain at once point operated 1,597 locations worldwide.

According to Chinese state-run media, the Haidilao outlets that are to be closed have relatively low foot traffic and poor business performance. 

Haidilao began in 1994 in Sichuan Province, in China. Their first U.S. location opened in 2013 in Los Angeles. They also have locations in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The name "haidilao" means "fortune," and is a term used in the game of mahjong in Sichuan. 

Offering a selection of boiling soup bases, such as tomato, spicy butter, and the traditional oil, Haidilao is a classic hot pot set up: You pick your soup and cook your proteins and veg at your table.

One of the chain's signature moves is to go to great lengths to keep customers occupied while they wait for their table (as even with reservations, customers often are asked to wait). They offer things like board games, snacks, and manicures for waiting customers. People who dine alone get a giant teddy bear to accompany them for hot pot. And if it’s your birthday, you’ll be serenaded with birthday songs.

The company boasts that its hot pot is fresher than others and offers the kinds of ingredients that aren’t offered at other restaurants. Such as wagyu beef cubes, shrimp pate, peony shrimp and more.

As for the broths, there is a black truffle broth among the options, as well as tomato and oxtail.

With files from Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome, and Nono Shen/Richmond News

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