• Jun Yue

百年老店与人类文明/Century-Old Business and Human Civilization


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去年的某一天,我和老婆在红磡必嘉街的一间粉面馆吃饭,由于刚好是饭点,人很多,于是我们俩就与一位六十多岁的老太太同坐一桌。饭间,我们一直在边吃边聊,而旁边的老太太倒是很热情,听我们在说普通话,于是也操着极为生硬的普通话问我们从大陆哪里来。或许是我们的粤语太烂,而老太太的普通话也不好,所以也就没聊上几句。老太太看我们快要吃完,于是便问我们觉得这里的面怎么样。我们都微笑的点头表示很不错。接着,她跟我们说,她还是小姑娘的时候就在这一家粉面馆吃面,已经五六十年了。


那是一间再普通不过的粉面馆了,一共只有6张小圆桌,餐厅的面积也就只有20平方米吧,但是菜单上却写着“红磡八十年老号”。于是我就问那位老太太,这家店真的有八十年吗?她一直点头说是。她说她妈妈以前就经常在这里吃面的。这家店从一开就一直没有停过吗?她说是的。她回答的很平静,就是一位老主顾在很自然的夸奖店家。我顿时感觉到时间与坚持的伟大。这仅有20平米的吃粉吃面的地方,居然也能够真正有如此之长的历史。


的确,百年老字号在有着五千年历史的广袤中华大地上不足为奇。五粮液、同仁堂、狗不理、王老吉、全聚德、王致和……我们耳熟能详的老字号数不胜数,但是这些老字号与那家粉面馆还是很不同的。首先,那家粉面馆并没有所谓的知名商标;其次,上述的中华老字号在土改、大跃进、文革等众多特殊时期内都或多或少的曾经中断过或者改过名。例如长沙的一家老字号面馆“杨玉兴”在文革期间中断过,后改名为“东方面馆”才获从新开业;再者,那家粉面馆没有分店、没有集团化经营,一直保持着家庭作坊的模式代代相传。


这样纯粹家族式的小作坊想成为百年老店是何等的困难啊?这家店近百年来居然都没有遭遇过像是土改、大跃进、文革、诈骗、城管、拆迁队之类的侵扰!也竟然没有饱受税务、工商执法、卫生稽查的围追堵截!更没有遭受苏丹红、结石奶粉、丰胸奶粉、地沟油、死猪肉、化工餐具、福尔马林海鲜等丑闻的影响!要知道,以上的任何一条,都能够让一个家族小店马上破产。前一段时间中国科学院某个研究所都被拆迁队莫名其妙地夷为平地了,何况是一家微不足道的粉面馆呢。


这让我想起了前些日子在台湾大学和一位台湾友人聊到的东西。这位台湾朋友研究经济学,经常往返于两岸三地,对于两岸三地的了解也是非常透彻,他提到的一点让我感受颇深。一般来说,大学都会建在相对较为偏僻的位置,除了一些很早期建立的学校之外,相对新建的学校都会这样选址,理由是,一来节约成本、二来远离喧嚣。在在寸土寸金的香港,也大体如此。港大、中文大学、科大、教育学院都在郊区,而城大、浸会大学位置也较偏,唯有理工大学的位置在香港实在非常难得,坐落在维多利亚港北岸岸边、毗邻红磡体育馆和红磡隧道。坐在理工大学的不少教室里竟然能够看到海,真算得上是五星级“维港海景教室”。


大学坐落在市中心,违反了马克思爷爷所说的“地租原理”,但是却遵循了人类文明的准则:“产权不可侵犯”。在香港,或许早有无数人、无数“部门”想过要将理工大学从这块价值连城的宝地上迁走。但是,在这里,人们相信“产权不可侵犯”的原则。另外,这地方也不是“领导说了算”。也就不可能有无良开发商半夜开着推土机、不顾人的性命安危、连事先通知都没有就把楼推到的事情发生了。起初,我并不能充分理解,为什么回归了那么久,香港人在国外介绍自己时还总是说:"Hi, I am from Hong Kong.” 这一年间,在香港的媒体上,看到许多有关大陆无良开发商暴力推楼、武装打人的新闻,单凭这一点,就很容易理解港人这样的自我介绍了。


如今,我也是那家粉面馆的常客了。当然,这不是因为那家店的近百年历史。毕竟,吃面就是吃面,只是为了饱肚子,不是为了吃什么百年历史。我成为常客,就是简简单单的因为这面本身的口感和味道。许多人,不就是因为这样简单的原因,一直吃了几十年吗?百年老店,不也正是无数普通顾客一口一口的吃出来的嘛?在没有“暴力拆迁”等各种纷扰的环境下、在保证顾客“每一口都可口的”条件下,百年老店就这样“自然而然”的、既容易、又不容易的诞生了。

 

One day last year, my wife and I were having dinner at a noodle shop on Baker Street in Hung Hom. Since it happened to be mealtime, there were many people, so we both sat at the same table with an old lady in her sixties. The old lady was very hospitable, and when she heard us speaking Mandarin, she asked us where we were from in mainland China in very rusty Mandarin. Perhaps our Cantonese is too bad, and the old lady's Mandarin is also bad, so we did not chat much. When the old lady saw that we were about to finish eating, she asked us how we thought of the noodles here. We all smiled and nodded our heads to say it was very good. Then she told us that she had eaten noodles at this noodle shop when she was a little girl, and it has been 50 or 60 years.


It was an ordinary noodle shop, with only 6 small round tables and a dining area of only 20 square meters, but the menu said "Hung Hom's 80-year-old noodle shop". So I asked the old lady, "Is this restaurant really 80 years old?" She kept nodding her head and said yes. She said her mother used to eat noodles here all the time. Has this store never stopped since it first opened? She said yes. She answered calmly, as an old customer complimenting the store naturally. I instantly felt the greatness of time and persistence. This noodle place with only 20 square meters can even have such a long history.


Indeed, it should not be surprising that there are century-old brands in the vast land of China with a history of 5,000 years. Wuliangye, Tongrentang, Goubuli, Wanglaoji, Quanjude, Wangzhihe...there are countless time-honored brands that we are familiar with, but these are still very different from that noodle restaurant. First of all, that noodle restaurant does not have a so-called well-known trademark; secondly, the above-mentioned time-honored Chinese brands have more or less been interrupted or changed their names during the Land Reform, the Great Leap Forward Movement, the Cultural Revolution, and many other special periods. For example, an old-fashioned noodle restaurant in Changsha, Yang Yuxing, was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution, and was later renamed Eastern Restaurant before it was reopened. Moreover, that noodle restaurant has no branches and no group operation and has always maintained the model of a family business, passed on from generation to generation.


How difficult is it for such a purely family-owned small shop to become a century-old store? This store has not suffered from the Land Reform, the Great Leap Forward Movement, the Cultural Revolution, Fraud, Urban Management Bureau, demolition teams, etc for nearly 100 years. It is surprising that it has not been subjected to any harm from taxation, industrial and commercial law enforcement, or health inspection. Not to mention not suffering from scandals like poisonous additives, poisonous milk powder, gutter oil, dead pork, chemical tableware, formalin seafood, etc. You know, any abovementioned factors are able to make a small family business immediately bankrupt. Some time ago, even a research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences was inexplicably razed to the ground by a demolition team, not to mention a minuscule noodle shop.


This reminds me of something I talked about with a Taiwanese friend at Taiwan University the other day. This Taiwanese friend studies economics and often travels across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and has a very thorough understanding of the two sides of the Strait. The point he mentioned made me think very deeply. Generally speaking, universities are built in relatively remote locations, except for some very early established schools. New schools are located in suburban or rural areas in order to save land costs and to be away from the hustle and bustle. In Hong Kong, where every inch of land is so valuable, this is also largely true. The University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Hong Kong Institute of Education are in the suburbs, while the City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University are in non-central locations of urban areas. Only the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is really unique. It is located on the north shore of Victoria Harbour, adjacent to the Hung Hom Stadium and the Hung Hom Tunnel. Sitting in many classrooms at the Polytechnic University, I can see the ocean, which are really five-star "Victoria Harbour sea view classrooms".


The university is located in the center of the city, which violates Marx's "Land Rent Theory", but follows the code of human civilization: "inviolability of property rights". In Hong Kong, there may have been countless people and departments who wanted to move Polytechnic University away from this valuable piece of land. But here, people believe in the principle of "inviolability of property rights". In addition, this place is not at the discretion of the political or business leaders. It is not possible for an unscrupulous developer to drive a bulldozer in the middle of the night and push the building to the ground without any prior notice, regardless of people's lives. At first, I could not fully understand why, after so long since the handover, Hong Kong people still always say "I am from Hong Kong" when introducing themselves abroad. This year from Hong Kong's mass media, I saw so many news stories about unscrupulous real estate developers in mainland China pushing buildings down violently and beating people with armed forces. Just with this, I can totally understand why Hongkongers are still introducing themselves in that way.


Now, I am also a regular customer of that noodle shop. Of course, it's not because of that store's nearly 100-year history. After all, to eat noodles is to eat noodles, just to fill your stomach, not to eat any hundred-year history. I became a regular customer simply because of the texture and taste of the noodles themselves. Many people, for such simple reasons, have been eating for decades, right? A hundred-year-old store is possible because countless ordinary customers eat there one by one, right? In an environment of no "violent demolition" and other disturbances, and under the condition to ensure that "every bite is delicious", the century-old restaurant was born "naturally", with is both easy and not easy.

 

发布时间:2010-08-14 16:05:57

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