Are you planning to eat out and wondering if the restaurant can accommodate you and 4,999 of your closest friends? If yes, you may have to travel a ways — all the way to Changsha, China. That is where the world’s largest Chinese restaurant is located.

How about these statistics for the West Lake Chinese Restaurant?

  • The restaurant was started in 2000 by Qin Lingzhi, who borrowed $10,000 to do so.
  • It has nearly 950,000 square feet (about twice the size of a large Wal-Mart).
  • It seats 5,000.
  • The restaurant employs a staff of more than 1,000, including 300 chefs.

Click on the image to access an eye-opening Businessweek slideshow.



25 Replies to “A Restaurant Where There Is Rarely Any Waiting”

  1. I think the restaurant concept is brilliant! An individual or business groups of fifty or more can go enjoy a nice meal without having a wait. While scrolling through the pictures of the restaurant, all I can think about is job creation. The restaurant has 5 kitchens, over 300 chefs, and has over 1,000 employees. I think its smart that the restaurant also caters to special events, like weddings, to expand their business profits and attract larger groups of people.

  2. For some reason this idea of a mega restaurant is a little disheartening to me. It loses the intimacy of going out to dinner. It is also way more difficult to become a “regular” and have a personal relationship with the workers as you may in many other restaurants. I would also find it very difficult if you did have a business meeting in a restaurant like this type, because it would be impossible to hear more than 40 people due to how many people are in the restaurant. However, I do think it is a very interesting idea it may just take a bit of perfecting.

  3. I am extremely impressed by the West Lake Chinese Restaurant. A common phrase people believe in is “quality over quantity.” However in this case, I believe the Chinese restaurant encompasses both. It’s hard to believe that there are over 1.000 employees, 300 chefs, and the restaurant is nearly 950,000 sq ft. Even though the restaurant is so massive, it obviously delivers high quality food and service, otherwise the owner, Qin Lingzhi, wouldn’t be a prosperous millionaire. I commend her efforts, especially because she started the restaurant with just $10,000. It just goes to show that you can really have it all, quantity and quality.

  4. I believe that this is a great idea in theory but in practice it might not work. This is more like a very nice, and huge cafeteria with waiters, rather than, a nice intimate restaurant that sits about 50-70 people. Another unenjoyable facet is that you can’t really sit down and have a lovely meal without hearing 50 other conversations. But the fact that Qin Lingzhi started this huge restaurant with just $10,000 is amazing and it makes a wonderful story.

  5. Well, I would say, maybe many people from western world would be amazed by this restaurant. But for us Chinese, maybe not that much, because in Tsing Hua University, which is the best university in China, there is a on-campus cafeteria. Theoretically, this cafeteria is able to accommodate 10,000 people having meals at the same time. What amazes me the most is that Qin Lingzhi only spent $10,000 starting this restaurant. It is a miracle, even in 2000.

  6. I think this restaurant concept is very different but at the same time amazing. People obviously want to try this place out because of its size. Knowing that there is 300 chefs and 1000 employees means that there is no real struggle for customer service. And the fact that the owner started out so small and made this restaurant into something so big is impressive in itself.

  7. I think the concept of this “super restaurant” is very cool. It is a very interesting idea that a lot of people will want to try out. As a restaurant worker myself, I can say that the restaurant may not run smoothly because of the mass volume of guests and employees. At the same time, they will probably rack in a lot of money because it is the new trend in that area, and we may start to see these mega restaurants popping up all over the world.

  8. It is evident that for this entrepreneur, Qin Lingzhi, the reward was exceedingly worth the risk. There are no other restaurants of this quality that operate at such high capacity. It amazes me that this restaurant has so many employees, kitchens, square footage, and patrons. I wouldn’t have considered that there would be demand for a restaurant of this magnatude, but clearly there is. The owner of this establishment took the risk by investing $10,000 in her idea and it paid off, awarding her over $1 million.

  9. I think this is a really good idea and a lot of people would want to try this restaurant. Over the summer I worked at a restaurant and they would lose so much business, because there would always be a wait for a table. Most people don’t want to wait for a table any longer than 20 minutes, including myself, would leave and go to another restaurant closer by that doesnt have as long of a wait. With that many employees, I’m sure customers are almost always satisfied with service and would have full intentions of returning to the restaurant. So I think this restaurant would be really successful in attracting a lot of customers.

  10. As consumers we always want things instantaneously and this restaurant builds upon that desire and aims to fulfill that desire, on such a large scale business. The concept of it is truly amazing but for me I would question how efficient is this restaurant really and does it really satisfy its customers.

  11. This is a very interesting and innovative concept. However, I also feel that it is not practical. In China it might be more practical because of the massive size of the population, but in the US I do not think that an owner of one of these “mega restaurants” would be able to make a substantial profit. Also, there is something about the level of intimacy that going out to dinner entails. Sharing a dinner space with 5000 patrons isn’t exactly romantic or relaxing. Yes, it is an amazing idea this person has come up with. Although this restaurant has seen much success, I just don’t see it as something that will catch on; especially not here in the US.

  12. One word: amazing. This definitely will be a huge tourist attraction for the next generation. However, although there are over 1,000 employees, I still feel like the service will not be the best. It also can be a huge fire hazard because there are so many people. If G-d forbid there is an emergency, there will be mass chaos. Having a destination wedding there would definitely be a great time.

  13. As much as I would love to invite 4,999 of my closet friends to dinner, the idea of sharing a meal with that many people annoys me. It is hard enough nowadays to sit in a restaurant and talk to your party because it is always loud from either other people or music. So if i was with 5,000 people I’d most likely rip my hair out. However, in other cultures it is wonderful to sit with that many people and eat a meal. I guess it all depends on your cultural background. Personally, I could never do it.

  14. The concept of the West Lake Chinese restaurant located in Changsha is a great. With 88,000 square meters of floor they’re is enough space to serve over 5,000 customers at a time. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into a restaurant with a large group knowing that you will without a doubt be seated? This restaurant probably attracts more customers than most other places because people like being ensured that they’re will be no waiting around to sit down for a meal with family, friends, co workers, etc. If customers are looking for a dining experience that is intimate and quiet then they will obviously choose not to come to the West Lake. However for the convenience and fast service (with over 1,000 employees) many will choose to eat here!

  15. While the idea is incredible and the images portray the place as brilliant, I don’t think it would work in the US. Here people would want to go there because it is an anomaly, but after the first few times, the novelty would wear off and going there would be a hassle. Even if the food and service were great, having the noise from 5,000 people dinning and talking in one area would be annoying and cumbersome. In addition, American’s like diversity. It would be difficult to find 5000 people (in most cities anyway) in one place that would all want the same thing, whether it be Chinese, Burgers, Mexican, etc. Although interesting, it wouldn’t be practical here.

  16. I would most definitely house my Superbowl party here, the event would be monumental! Large restaurants are great for events but i would have to pass. My concern is the hygiene and cleanlines of the business. I’ve come across many photos online of places where they have food right next to the trash. Great concept but seems we are not safe when it comes to avoiding the delightful salad bar.

  17. I’m not surprised to see a restaurant hold the capacity such as this one. But it is great to see that a restaurant of that size not only serve their customers but actually maintain and have good quality and management. There are plenty of different views on this article but I must say these was an interesting article.

  18. I think this restaurant looks amazing and seems like it is able to run efficiently. I didn’t know such large-scale restaurants existed but anything is possible in this growing economic world. I am sure they run into some problems here and there accounting for supplies and employees at all times but they have proofed that it can work. We will probably start to see more and more large-scale restaurants emerging in the future. These restaurants could possibly even appear in the United States.

  19. I do not like the idea of this restaurant. The concept itself is interesting because it is able to accommodate so many customers. But, it is very impersonal and human beings tend to like a smaller restaurant that is more friendly. We like to be treated well when we go out to eat, and realistically how much attention are you receiving at a restaurant that can seat up to 5000 people?

  20. I’m not entirely fond of this idea of a restaurant. Besides the upside of no waiting, what about sanitation…and the noise? Imagine 5,000 people eating all at once, clinking silverware, loud chewing…yeah I wouldn’t like that so much. But most importantly, sanitation. If there is no wait time for 5,000 diners and for the ones that are continuing to walk in the door, the restaurant must be cleaning their plates or silverware rapidly but not thoroughly. Gross!

  21. Wow! That is really remarkable. I’ve never even heard of anything coming close to that here in New York. It was smart thinking on their part to offer weddings considering the fact that I can’t imagine a packed house at all times 365 days a year. The only way to have this work is a large staff and they also took care of that. I’d be interested in finding out how satisfied customers are because the food looks elegant (minus the snake).

  22. This concept of being able to serve about 5,000 people at once is amazing! Ever since I was little I always imagined a place that could do this and be successful at it and it seems the West Lake Chinese Restaurant is doing just that. This concept is especially good for big companies who can go out to dinner every so often all together and not have to worry about how many people from the company come. Or they can even have a meeting with a whole other company to discuss business over a well prepared dinner. Although this is working great in China, I feel this would not work so well in a place like New York city because we are accustomed to fast service at restaurants and fairly small establishments that if a place that big was to be built here, people would probably avoid it because they would perceive it as slow service and too crowded and noisy.

  23. This was a really strange post but I found myself having to google and find out everything about this restaurant. I can’t imagine what it must be like to work or eat at this place. It sounds disgusting maybe because I hate chinese food or it might be that I’m concerned about the health situation going on. First of all I don’t know where this woman got the idea but clearly it’s working out for her. I would never have expected a giant restaurant in China would gain so much profit. What I find really interesting is that besides the fact that it’s humongous and is modeled after the Forbidden City there really isn’t anything else this place is known for yet it brings in so many people. With so much food that is cooked and served I can’t imagine if one day there was a batch of bad chicken or something or bacteria spreading. I just don’t like the idea of something like that happening on such a large scale. It’s rare for chinese restaurants to have great health ratings here in the U.S. (I’ve been to ALOT my dad’s chinese) but I’ve heard what it’s like in China and this entire idea really just grosses me out. I feel like one break in the system at this restaurant could put it out of business so quickly.

  24. While I think this definitely takes out the intimate and atmospheric aspect to dining, there is definitely a notion of efficiency in the idea. While this definitely isn’t the place you would go for a romantic date setting or privacy, it must be great for corporate and business type events. I also have to question the quality here. It seems whenever things are mass produced or exist in a factory type setting there is a decrease in quality. Although in America this idea might seem very unappealing, with serious over population in China, this be quite practical.

  25. The most annoying thing that can happen to anyone when their at a resturant and they are starving is when the hostess tells them it can be a 45 minute wait. Noone likes that. We expect to just come in, sit down and eat, maybe wait 10 minutes but thats it. I think people would be willing and interested in trying this resturant. Multiple people refuse to wait when they are at a resturant and will just walk out and find somewhere else to eat, and that makes the business loose customers and money. I personally am a very impacient person so if there is a long wait I won’t even want to put my name down I would rather just find a different place to eat at. A resturant like this, with a ton of workers probaly moves a lot faster than any other resturant and people probably don’t need to even wait. If customers come to a resturant and see that there are so many employees helping out and that the wait to sit down is not bad at all, more and more people will continue coming and the business will stand out and do great. I think that this is a great way to attract people to eat at this resturant.

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