Turdimemet (right) prepares mutton barbecue at the couple's restaurant in Yichang, Hubei province. [Photo by Yan Xiaodong/ Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
A Uygur minority couple from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have been operating a restaurant for years in Yichang, Hubei province, and they think of the city as their second home.
In 2012, the couple traveled more than 4,300 kilometers from Moyu county of Hotan, Xinjiang, and arrived at the Wujiagang district of Hubei's Yichang to explore business possibilities.
Anar Gul serves a meal to customers. [Photo by Yan Xiaodong/Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Turdimemet, the husband, had lived for more than two years in Yichang earlier and had often described it to his wife, Anar Gul. His stories piqued her interest.
In the summer of 2012, after working 55 days in cotton fields in Xinjiang, the couple began their long journey to Yichang. There they acquired a cooking cart and sold food on the street.
Anar Gul (left) and Turdimemet work in Yichang, Hubei province. [Photo by Yan Xiaodong/Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Things were difficult at first for Anar Gul, whose Mandarin was poor and selling food from a cart was challenging. But she gradually learned and adapted.
The little business prospered from the start. Many residents loved the Xinjiang mutton barbecue and Wusu beer, another specialty of Xinxiang.
Within a few years, Turdimemet and Anar Gul had many loyal customers and were able to open a regular restaurant with tables for customers at the end of 2018. They called it Jiangbaiwei.
Anar Gul sells mutton. [Photo by Yan Xiaodong/Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
They live in a community shared with around 1,000 other ethnic minority people. Officials and staff took special care of the residents, providing various forms of assistance and solving problems, such as dealing with medical insurance and distributing masks during the pandemic.
For Anar Gul, two meaningful things in 2020 stand out.
Turdimemet [Photo by Yan Xiaodong/Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
"I spent 5,000 yuan ($760) to buy necessities — such as rice and cooking oil — to donate to elderly people who were poor," she said.
"The second thing was the experience of sending vegetables to the doors of residents in the community, together with some fellows from my hometown, during the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year."
With the help of friends, the couple expanded the restaurant to five branches in Yichang, and they have brought authentic Xinjiang flavor to every corner of the city.