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Exploring Life & Business with Mike Chen of Delicious Chengdu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Chen, co-owner of Delicious Chengdu.

Hi Mike, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Before I moved to LA, I worked at Wynn & Encore in LasVegas as a Casino Analyst. I always have the passion and gift for cooking. I got an offer to work at Joel Jobuchon when I was 21. I love visiting different restaurants and discovering great food. My favorite spots are all hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

My partner Lena and I used to be regular customers at Delicious Chengdu. The place itself almost explains the definition of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It doesn’t have any fancy marketing or accolades, no big signs nor any attractive décor. You can barely even find a good photo on a website for this place, but the food is solid and surprisingly good. It is definitely the chef’s gift to master the complex flavor of various Szechuan dishes, and it takes years of practice to be able to take perfect control of texture for different ingredients. When you visit Delicious Chengdu as often as I do, and seeing all these familiar faces, it tells you how much people love it. It is the type of food that we are proud of, and we want to share it with more people.

The hit from pandemic is real, even with a lot of support from local customers, the previous owner of Delicious Chengdu decided to give up this business. I didn’t think I am ready to personally own and operate a restaurant, but this business stands for our love and passion for great traditional food from our homeland. And we felt a calling to keep it alive. So Lena and I met with the head chef of Delicious Chengdu, and decided to partner with him and take over the ownership. 

With my background in hospitality and tech, and work experience in kitchens; along with our experience as startup founders, we are confident to help Delicious Chengdu continue thriving.

Keeping it real and simple, we want to build a brand that showcases nostalgic Szechuan Food; and create a place that people connect with good food and our beautiful culture. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Operationally,  it was hard. Especially when the cost of food supply and labor rose dramatically, and there was a shortage of certain ingredients, we had to work very hard to maintain the service and quality without raising our price too much. 

And we never had the budget to do marketing, so we have to come up with creative ways to let more people know about us. 

We’ve been impressed with Delicious Chengdu, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Delicious Chengdu is an authentic/nostalgic Szechuan restaurant. It’s on a mission to bring people together over great food.

We kept the ‘hole-in-the-wall’ concept of Delicious Chengdu but also created a younger, and more joyful brand identity.  

We launched a website and created social media accounts. Online presence enhances our brand, and allows people to visually access our products first. 

Although the place has its traditional look, we have implemented modern technologies to help us provide service more efficiently, like QR ordering, online auto-updated menu, and online pre-ordering. I also built in-house apps to help streamline operations.

Collaborating with other businesses is the best decision we’ve ever made.  We built an in-store market place where we curate and highlight other great products that we love (dessert /bakery brands, artisan candles, beverages, etc.) . We’ve reached out to many talented entrepreneurs whose story really inspired us, and I love that we were able to create this community to empower each other, and get stronger together. 

We host events and fairs to highlight local makers and artists. That will help them to reach more audiences, increase visibility, and also help people to remember us. In the past, we’ve hosted pop-up fairs, filmmakers movie nights, startup founder lunch serieses, culture events, etc. It is cool to see these fun events at such a classic Chinese restaurant.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?

  1. We are always open to collaborate with other local businesses and help each other grow. We are happy to introduce great quality products to our store, and proudly serve them to our customers. We would love our brand partners to shout out our business as well. 
  2. If you like our food, and like joining our events, please visit us, bring your friends, and share your love with us.
  3. We love honest feedback. We are still small and young, and I am pretty sure that there are a lot of things that we need to learn. Let us know how we can improve.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Delicious Chengdu

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