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墨西哥卷饼能让洋快餐在中国收复失地吗?

更新时间:2017-2-13 18:43:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Long Way From Mexico: Company Bets China Has an Appetite for Taco Bell
墨西哥卷饼能让洋快餐在中国收复失地吗?

SHANGHAI — Until he was appointed manager of a Taco Bell in China, Will Cao had never seen a taco before. When confronted with its hard, U-shaped shell in Los Angeles last June, he wondered: How do you eat it?

上海——在被任命为一家塔可贝尔(Taco Bell)店经理之前,曹伟君从没见过墨西哥煎玉米卷。去年6月在洛杉矶见到它U形的硬壳时,他很纳闷:“这东西怎么吃呢?”

“Everything was spilling all over the place,” said Mr. Cao, a 31-year-old Shanghai resident. “Then I looked at the other customers to learn that, actually, you are supposed to tilt your neck to eat it.”

“这个不太好吃,东西会掉,”这位31岁的上海居民说。“然后的话看到一些伙伴,就是其他的一些,那些顾客才知道,原来要歪着脖子这样吃。”

Mr. Cao’s employer is betting that other Chinese diners will figure it out. Yum China, the company behind KFC there, last month opened the first Taco Bell in China in years, and says it plans to open an unspecified number more. The company is turning to double-layered tacos and overstuffed quesadillas in hopes of regaining ground in a market where its fried chicken has shown the limits of its appeal.

曹伟君的雇主在押注其他中国顾客也能弄明白这点。中国的肯德基餐厅所属的百胜中国公司上个月在中国开了这里数年来的第一家塔可贝尔餐厅,并表示计划开设多家,但没有透露具体数目。这家公司将目光投向双层煎玉米卷和塞得满满的芝士烤饼,以期在一个其炸鸡的吸引力已经达到极限的市场夺回失去的阵地。

It won’t be easy. First, there is the matter of what’s on the menu: Mexican food. Tacos and burritos are virtually unknown in China, where many diners prize aspirational noshes from America, Japan and Europe and look skeptically at what they see as poorer fare from other developing countries.

这不容易。首先,这里有一个菜单问题:墨西哥食物。中国实际上没多少人知道墨西哥煎玉米卷和布里特卷,在那里,许多就餐者看重受人追捧的美国、日本和欧洲快餐,而对来自其他发展中国家被他们看作更差饮食的东西持怀疑态度。

Then there is Taco Bell’s very American take on Mexican meals. Even among fans, many of its more artery-hardening menu items are best considered late-night guilty pleasures. “It’s like a dirty thing that I love Taco Bell so much,” the actress Anna Kendrick once said on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, adding, “it has to be under cover of darkness in my car.”

此外,还有塔可贝尔在墨西哥食物上非常美式的改造。即便是在粉丝中,它那些更容易导致动脉硬化的菜单选项充其量被认为是在深夜带来负疚快感的食物。“我这么热爱塔可贝尔就好像是一件见不得人的事,”女演员安娜·肯德里克(Anna Kendrick)曾在科南·奥布莱恩(Conan O’Brien)的脱口秀节目上这样讲道,她还表示,“不得不在夜幕的掩护下躲在车里吃。”

For its new store in Shanghai, Taco Bell is leaving behind some of those greasy American favorites, such as taco shells made out of Doritos or fried chicken cutlets. Instead, as it once successfully did with KFC, Yum China is tailoring the menu to local tastes. It is offering basic, understandable Tex-Mex fare such as a crunchy taco supreme and a chicken quesadilla. Other dishes made for the Chinese market include a shrimp and avocado burrito and a spicy fried chicken dish, a meal that has broader appeal with the Chinese.

在上海的新店里,塔可贝尔抛弃了美国人最喜欢的一些油腻食物,比如用多力多滋(Doritos)或煎鸡排做的煎玉米卷。相反,就像它曾经在肯德基成功做到的一样,百胜中国在依据本地口味调整菜单。它在提供基本的、容易接受的德州—墨西哥食物,比如松脆的煎玉米卷和鸡肉芝士烤饼。为中国市场设计的其他菜品还包括鲜虾牛油果布里特卷和香辣炸鸡,后者是一道对中国人有更广泛吸引力的菜品。

And in a feature rare in America — perhaps for good reason — the China store offers Japanese beer and alcoholic slushes.

还有一个在美国很少见的特色——或许有充分的理由——中国店提供日本啤酒和含酒精的冰沙。

Yum China is aware of the magnitude of the challenge. Micky Pant, its chief executive, says eating a taco is “a whole new way of learning.”

百胜中国很清楚这个挑战有多么巨大。首席执行官米基·潘特(Micky Pant)表示吃墨西哥煎玉米卷是“一种全新的学习方式”。

The company is learning its own lessons. In the 1990s, Chinese consumers flocked to KFC and other Western fast-food chains, drawn by their clean bathrooms and air-conditioning — a novelty in China at that time. But restaurants like McDonald’s and KFC have since struggled against increasing competition from quick-service Chinese restaurant chains and a shift toward healthier eating.

中国公司在吸取自己的经验教训。上世纪90年代,中国顾客受干净的洗手间和空调环境——在当时的中国还比较少见——吸引,纷纷涌入肯德基及其他西式快餐连锁店。但自那之后,麦当劳和肯德基等餐厅就一直在艰难应对日趋激烈的竞争,它们来自中国快餐店,也源于人们日渐转向更健康的饮食。

While China is still a lucrative market for companies including Apple, Nike and Starbucks, other American firms are finding the going tougher than it used to be. The once seemingly insatiable appetite for all things foreign has stalled in a marketplace where domestic brands are catching up and consumers are richer, with more choices than ever.

尽管对包括苹果(Apple)、耐克(Nike)和星巴克(Starbucks)在内的公司而言,中国依然是一个诱人的市场,但其他公司发现情况正在变得比过去更加艰难。在一个国内品牌逐渐赶上,消费者越来越富裕、选择前所未有之多的市场,对外国食物一度看似无尽的需求停滞不前了。

Big American fast-food chains are now distancing themselves from their China operations. Yum Brands divested Yum China last year, while McDonald’s is selling a controlling stake in its business to a locally led investor group.

目前,美国大型快餐连锁集团正和他们的在华业务保持距离。去年,百胜餐饮集团(Yum Brands)剥离了百胜中国,而麦当劳也在把中国业务的控股权卖给一个本地投资者领衔的投资集团。

That led to Yum China’s gamble on Taco Bell. Instead of Taco Bell’s American approach — quick, cheap, often unabashedly junky — the Shanghai restaurant seems intent on easing Chinese diners into ordering. The menu in China features enlarged images of foods on a lighted board and a transparent kitchen, where skeptical customers can watch their food being assembled.

这促使百胜中国把赌注压在了塔可贝尔餐厅上。上海的这家餐厅没有采用塔可贝尔的美国经营方式——快速、廉价,不以提供垃圾食物为耻——而是似乎打算让中国顾客放心点餐。它在用灯光照亮的板上展示放大的食物图片,还设立了透明厨房,不大放心的顾客可以观看食物的制作过程。

Yum dropped fajitas because focus groups said Chinese people did not like the “peppery type of spiciness that Westerners like,” said Jimmy Chen, senior director of Yum China’s brand development division. Chinese consumers wanted warm cheese on their tacos, not the cold grated variety offered in the United States. They asked for alcohol to be offered.

百胜中国的品牌开发部高级总监吉米·陈(Jimmy Chen)表示,百胜放弃了法士达(fajitas),因为焦点组认为中国人“不像西方人那样喜欢胡椒的辣味”。中国顾客喜欢在煎玉米夹饼里放入温热的奶酪,而非美国那些磨碎的冷奶酪。他们还希望提供酒精饮料。

The bean burrito was “controversial,” Mr. Chen said; while some Chinese who had studied abroad considered it a must, others found two types of starches layered on top of one another unfamiliar. Ultimately the bean burrito was booted.

陈说,豆子玉米卷饼“有争议”。虽然曾在海外留学的一些中国人认为它是必点食物,但其他人认为两种淀粉叠加在一起很不常见。最终,豆子玉米卷饼被排除在外。

Said Mr. Chen, “We just need a little more time.”

陈说,“我们还需要一点时间。”

Yum has tried Taco Bell in China before. In 2003 it opened full-service restaurants called “Taco Bell Grande” in Shanghai, then in the southern city of Shenzhen, offering higher-end fare like steaks and fajitas. But it pulled out five years later.

百胜之前尝试过在中国开设塔可贝尔餐厅。2003年,它在上海开设了几家名为“塔可钟墨西哥风情餐厅”(Taco Bell Grande)的全服务连锁餐厅,而后在中国南方城市深圳开设了几家,后者提供牛排和法士达等更高端的食物。不过公司在五年后撤店。

“They had little Chinese girls with sombreros on them looking ridiculous,” said Joel Silverstein, president of the consultancy East West Hospitality Group and a former senior executive with PepsiCo restaurants, the onetime parent of Yum Brands. “That was a complete disaster.”

“小巧的中国女孩戴着宽沿帽,看起来很滑稽,”咨询公司东西友好集团(East West Hospitality Group)总裁、前百事餐厅(PepsiCo.)高级主管乔尔·西尔弗斯坦(Joel Silverstein)说。百事曾是百胜餐饮集团的母公司。“那次尝试是彻底的失败。”

Still, Yum once seemed to have cracked the China code. Since opening its first KFC in 1987, Yum has grown into the biggest Western fast-food chain in the country, with more than 7,300 stores in over 1,100 cities, three times that of its rival McDonald’s. Part of the secret was localization: KFC offered fried dough sticks and congee for breakfast, while its sister brand Pizza Hut served pizzas topped with seafood and durian, a pungent fruit from Southeast Asia.

不过,百胜似乎破解了中国密码。自1987年开设第一家肯德基餐厅以来,百胜发展成为该国最大的西方快餐连锁集团,在超过1100个城市拥有7300多家餐厅,是竞争对手麦当劳的3倍。它的一个秘诀是本土化:肯德基早餐提供油条和粥,它的姐妹餐厅必胜客提供含有海鲜和榴莲顶料的披萨——榴莲是东南亚的一种味道浓烈的水果。

But in recent years Yum has grappled with a series of food-quality scandals in China.

不过近些年,百胜在中国遭遇了一系列与食品质量相关的丑闻。

In 2012, Chinese news media reported that KFC chicken suppliers used antibiotics and growth hormones in their meat, news that hurt sales and prompted Yum to cut its number of suppliers. The company emphasized that its food was safe. Two years later, a Chinese state-run broadcaster reported that a meat supplier used by Yum was suspected of selling expired meat. Yum terminated the supplier, which was later fined about $3.5 million by regulators in Shanghai. Sales growth weakened after both episodes, and by 2015 sales at stores that had been open for at least a year continued to decline.

2012年,中国新闻媒体报道,肯德基的鸡肉供应商在养鸡过程中使用抗生素和生长激素,这些新闻导致肯德基的营业额急剧下滑,迫使百胜减少了其供应商的数量。该公司强调自己的食物是安全的。两年后,中国的一家官方新闻机构报道称,百胜的一个肉类供应商疑似销售过期肉类。百胜停用了该供应商,后者后来被上海的监管机构罚款约350万美元。两起事件后,销售增长势头开始减弱,到2015年,开业一年以上的餐厅的营业额继续下滑。

Adding to the decline: an increasingly sophisticated customer base that eschews Western fast food for other options. “The biggest challenge is making the connection with the younger generation,” said Ye Liyan, marketing director in China for Pizza Hut.

雪上加霜的是,见识越来越多的顾客开始避开西方快餐,选择其他菜系。“最大的挑战是与更年轻的一代建立联系,”必胜客中国的企划总监叶丽燕说。

In its own effort to refurbish, Pizza Hut is rolling out “concept stores” across China — in Shanghai, one features a robot waiter and a table with a built-in screen for customers to build their own pizzas.

为了重振雄风,必胜客正在中国各地推出“概念餐厅”——上海的一家必胜客餐厅配备了机器人服务员,餐桌上设有内嵌式屏幕,顾客可以自己配制披萨。

Taco Bell may be an unlikely restaurant to connect. “Chinese people have mostly admired things from Europe and the United States,” said Darcy Zhang, a food blogger based in Shanghai. “But Mexico itself is a developing country, and so many Chinese people would wonder why they would have to try Mexican food.”

塔可贝尔似乎不太像一个能引起年轻人兴趣的餐厅。“我觉得中国人一贯比较崇尚欧美,欧洲和美国的东西,”上海美食博主张雅轩说,“但墨西哥本身是一个发展中国家,大部分中国人很可能在想为什么要吃墨西哥食物。”

Yum China formally opened the Taco Bell on Jan. 9 in Shanghai’s prime Lujiazui area, a popular tourist spot. The former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who made the famous “Taco Neck” commercial in 1995, participated in a taco-eating competition.

1月9日,百胜中国的塔可贝尔餐厅在上海观光胜地陆家嘴正式开业。退役篮球明星沙奎尔·奥尼尔(Shaquille O’Neal)在开业典礼上参加了一个吃煎玉米夹饼的比赛。他曾于1995年拍摄了著名的“塔可脖”(Taco Neck)广告。

On a recent Tuesday, the store was packed at lunch, with a 15-minute wait to get a table. Diners sat on chairs below surfboards suspended from ceilings. Workers in polo shirts served margaritas and draft beer.

前不久一个周二的午餐时间,这家餐厅满座,要等15分钟才有座位。天花板上悬挂着冲浪板,食客们坐在下面的椅子上。穿着马球衫的员工们在给顾客们上玛格丽塔鸡尾酒和生啤。

“If you didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t even know this was Mexican food,” said Zang Jing, 30, a bank clerk, adding that she thought the food was “not bad.”

“你不说我都不知道是墨西哥菜,”30岁的银行职员臧菁说。她还说她觉得这里的食物“不错”。

Liu Xiaoyi, chief editor of a local food guide, said she believed Mexican food could take off in China because people are “willing to try new things.”

一本当地美食指南的主编刘晓意称,她认为墨西哥菜能在中国兴起,因为人们“愿意尝试新鲜的事物”。

“They are willing to listen to people telling them, ‘You have to look at it from a different angle to appreciate it, it’s not the same as a Chinese meal but it’s also delicious,’” she said after photographing her burrito.

“他们愿意听一些人告诉他们说,‘这个东西可能是这样的。你要换一个角度去欣赏它,它跟中国餐不一样,但是它也是好吃的’,”她拍完自己的布里特卷后说。

Her friend, Zhu Li, disagreed. “It really does not look good when you eat it,” said Ms. Zhu, 45, an insurance agent.

她的朋友朱黎不这么认为。“因为这样的东西,吃起来真的不好看,”45岁的朱女士说。她是一名保险代理人。

“It’s all over your hands and dripping on the table. It just makes me uncomfortable.”

“弄得满手都是,还会滴在桌子上。我真的看得很不舒服。”

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