Buffet with morals on the menu

By Tom Phillips in Shanghai

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A Chinese businessman has begun a crusade to remedy his country's "moral crisis" by opening a restaurant where customers only pay if they want to.

Liu Pengfei, a 51-year-old from Fuzhou in southeast China, opened his "Good One" buffet in August in what he said was an attempt to rescue a long-lost sense of trust in Chinese society.

The restaurant's menu, a blend of Chinese and international cuisine, is nothing remarkable.

What is unique is Liu's business model. For customers can pay as much or as little as they want - and can choose not to pay at all.

Liu, a Christian, said his idea was to build trust by offering diners the choice of doing the right thing - paying - or taking the dishonest path of leaving without settling the bill.

"I don't run a business, I run a trust," he said.

"When I trust them [the customers], they will trust me and they will begin to love others.

"I hope that when people come here they sense that.

"Then, when they return to their work and family, they will share this idea," said the businessman.

Liu blamed Mao Zedong's brutal decade-long Cultural Revolution for what he argued was a widespread breakdown of ethics.

The 1966-76 campaign, which saw China consumed by violence and children denounce their parents as "counter-revolutionaries", had "destroyed mutual trust between people", he said.

Alas, Liu's attempts to rescue Chinese morals have got off to a slow start.

His business has incurred losses of 250,000 yuan ($50,600) since August.

Telegraph Group Ltd

- NZ Herald

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