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Eateries remain hungry

DESPITE the latest general price cut initiated by the Expo organizer, the popularity of non-fast-food restaurants inside the Expo site is still lagging behind their fast-food counterparts, especially on the Puxi side, top official of Shanghai Cuisine Association said yesterday.

The food prices have lately dropped by about 15 percent at restaurants serving dishes featuring traditional Shanghai-style or nearby-region cuisines, but the average attendance is still only 30 percent, said Shen Siming, director of the association.

The prices of these restaurants are almost the same as their branches outside the Expo site now, he said.

However, meals still cost more than they do at those fast-food restaurants.

The average price of the non-fast-food restaurants, which account for 15 percent of restaurants at the Expo site, is about 100 yuan (US$14.64) per person, compared with the 38-yuan average fast-food price.

Also denting business: Many visitors are bringing their own food to the Expo site, according to Chen Juanjuan, secretary general of the association.

In a bid to bring more customers into restaurants, the Expo bureau yesterday kicked off a poll asking visitors to vote for the best dish and non-fast-food restaurant inside Expo site.

The city's food safety authority has suggested visitors not bring home-cooked meals in the coming hot weather to avoid food poisoning. Shanghai is expected to stay warm during the six month event.

Total business volume of all local restaurants was about 70 billion yuan last year. The association hoped the volume could spurt about 30 billion yuan higher this year because of the Expo, but that seems hard to achieve now, said Chen.

Still, the association is asking restaurants at the site to improve their dishes and service and keep up their confidence, as more visitors are coming, Shen said.

Lin Shengyong, director of Commercial Administration and Service Department of the Expo site, said the Expo bureau will continue to lower prices.

The organizer will also urge restaurants to add some new dishes and drinks for the coming hot weather, Lin added.

Attendance rose over the weekend, reaching a record-setting 330,000 on Saturday.


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