An aerial view of the plane restaurant in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.[Photo/China Daily]
The first airplane-themed restaurant in China proved a big hit after it opened recently in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, the owner said.
Located inside a retired Boeing 737 aircraft, Lily Airlines restaurant gives its diners the feeling of being on board a flight. “Passengers” must obtain their bill, which is printed on a replica flight ticket, before they pass down the aisle into the cabin. All waiters and waitresses are dressed to resemble air hosts and hostesses.
Opened on Sept 9, the retired aircraft got a water cannon salute, as if it had made a virgin flight on a new route.
“I didn’t expect it to be so popular,” said Li Lang, owner of the restaurant. He said they set a maximum daily service limit of 150 guests. “It will be beyond our ability to serve more than 200 diners,” he said.
The restaurant has a capacity of 78 people, with 19 tables. Only those who have a VIP membership card can call to make a reservation, while those without have to wait in the “departure hall” if there are no seats available. There is an 800-yuan ($120) deposit fee, which goes toward future dining bills, for those wanting to obtain a VIP membership card.
With four foreign chefs, the restaurant offers five varieties of set meals, including American, German and French cuisine, depending on the “air route”, which changes. The price of the set meals ranges from 158 yuan to 398 yuan.
A woman surnamed Chen said she traveled more than 30 kilometers to eat at the restaurant. “I came because my son really likes airplanes. It’s a pity that we have to wait until next month to experience the simulation cockpits.”
As the founder of a landscape engineering company, Li is a big fan of vehicles and machinery, and is currently applying for a pilot license.
Li said he got the idea of opening the restaurant after seeing an airplane-themed hotel four years ago in Sweden. After failing to find a suitable aircraft in China, Li bought the retired aircraft from Indonesia for 35 million yuan.
It took four months and cost 3 million yuan to transport the aircraft back to China, and was dismantled eight times in the process.
The name of the restaurant is homophonous with Li’s family name and his wife’s given name.
Li said he gave the restaurant its name as it is a gift to his wife, who chose to marry him at a time when he had financial difficulties.
“When we got married, we didn’t hold a wedding banquet and I didn’t even buy a wedding ring for her,” he said.
Servers dressed as flight crew members pour drinks for customers in the airplane-themed restaurant.[Photo/China Daily]