"My dad was a businessman himself, and he was always very open with me about what was going on in his business. Once I turned 18, he encouraged me to be independent, which is not normal in China or other Eastern Cultures. It’s common for children to still live with their parents, even up until they are 24 or so.
By the time I was 19 I owned two restaurants while doing my undergrad in Shanghai. And in 2013, I took the money I made from my restaurants and put it towards continuing my undergrad in the USA. It was a hard decision to make, but my dad reinforced the importance of finishing school.
Water Song is my first restaurant in the USA. We opened on March 24th, 2020, the day after the coronavirus stay-at-home order came into effect. It was mind-blowing. The whole neighborhood changed overnight. Nobody was on the streets. Nobody walked by. It was completely quiet. I was like, “Oh my God, I messed up with my business.”
"All of the sudden I could only do carry out and delivery, and we didn't even have a delivery platform yet. So there was a ton of financial pressure. We also couldn’t apply for the Small Business PPP loans because we had no payroll before March.
After two weeks, I saw the number of COVID cases grow exponentially, so we made a tough decision and closed for two weeks. But once we opened again, the cases increased again—everything was very dramatic.
The last several months have certainly been a humbling experience. Despite the difficulty, it turned out to be a good opportunity for us because we had a lot more time to train employees and train ourselves. I can now say that our team is solid and the food is very consistent."