Beijing’s new city policy is leaving no survivors – bars, restaurants, and convenience shops located in the city’s historic hutongs are all under attack and living in fear of a construction crew showing up at their door armed with cement and bricks. Have they done anything wrong? Technically, yes. These businesses have been operating for years under very cloudy legal circumstances. Despite their now unattractive brick-clad appearance, many are carrying on – one much-loved pizza joint, Ramo, even took matters into its own hands and bricked itself up. If it’s going to happen, it might as well be a job well-done – right?
The Middle Eastern favorite tried to continue serving midnight falafel through a sliding panel. Not for long though, as the establishment was forced to close its doors, or windows at this point, and move to a safer location away from the targeted hutongs.
The popular live music bar Hot Cat Club has received a brick makeover as well. Though it remains operational, patrons weep for the days when the doors were wide open and customers could pop outside with a beer on a muggy summer evening.
Has the policy worked? All in all, it has created obstacles for businesses operating in some of the most popular areas of Beijing, which will certainly bring down their profit. Assuming that the long-term goal of the authorities is to exterminate illegal business altogether, they are hoping that the owners will quit as soon as their endeavours become less profitable. That said, the whole operation has questionable methods and an uncertain future. As local residents hold on to what is left of Gulou culture, they walk the streets prepared for the losses that the next day may bring.