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"My Pizza Boxes Traveled Abroad Before I Did" | Realpreneur Tales

By YUTING CHEN|May 29,2024

Chongqing - Suzie Pizza Shop is nestled in a residential building in Sanxia Square, Shapingba District, Chongqing. For over two decades, this shop has been serving delicious and affordable pizzas, consistently praised by foreign travelers and still attracting many to this day. 

Beyond the taste, what makes it stand out in Chongqing's pizza scene is the genuine kindness of the owner, Tang Xiaoqi, known as Suzie.

Suzie (right) is with a customer at her pizza shop. (Photo/Suzie)

A pizza-making journey with a human touch

Twenty years ago, handmade pizza was a rarity in Chongqing, with most pizza shops catering to foreigners. Suzie spent two years working at a nearby pizza shop owned by a New Zealander in Chongqing University's B District, where she mastered the art of pizza-making.

Initially, she had no plans to open her pizza shop and wanted to earn some pocket money with her skills. However, a German customer praised her pizza as the best he had ever tasted and encouraged her to start her own business, even giving her 1000 yuan to buy an oven.

Suzie took the German customer's advice and started her pizza-making journey from home. Positive feedback from her regular customers fueled her confidence, and her business steadily grew.

As word of Suzie's delicious pizzas spread, diners began posting glowing reviews on the Chongqing Expat Club's online forum, declaring her pizzas the best in Chongqing. The enthusiastic responses in the comments brought even more customers to her doorstep.

With the increasing traffic providing a stable livelihood and potential for growth, Suzie decided it was time to open a physical pizza shop. 

Back when Suzie ran the shop alone, she met many kind-hearted people. Some foreign customers would leave their unused items, like microwaves, with Suzie when they left China, which was a delightful surprise for her. When Suzie became pregnant, familiar customers brought gifts piled up from floor to ceiling, filled with blessings. "They gave me hope and encouragement, making me feel warm," Suzie recalled.

Suzie treasured her moments with customers as the shop's operation stabilized. Having received so much kindness, she understood the value of sincerity and respect in human relationships and aimed to bring warmth to more customers.

For example, she would teach curious customers how to make their pizzas and offer food and lodging to women new to Chongqing with nowhere to stay. In her spare time, she created a photo wall with customers' messages and photos with friends, capturing joyful moments of past visitors and creating a warm, cozy atmosphere.

Many old photos are on the wall in the corner of Suzie's Pizza Shop. (Photo/Chen Yuting)

A home where customers always feel at ease

Suzie discovered that treating each customer sincerely led to heartfelt responses, regardless of their closeness. The graffiti at her shop's entrance tells a magical story. 

One day, an unknown customer suggested decorating the white wall. With Suzie's permission, he grabbed spray paint and quickly created a vibrant mural. Later, Suzie learned this customer was an artist.

A repeat customer, Jesse, from New York, was outgoing and took many "Suzie's Pizza" boxes with him back to the United States. He photographed them in various places, telling Chinese people he met, "This is my friend's pizza shop in Chongqing," and took group photos with the boxes.

 "I often find it amusing because my pizza boxes traveled abroad before I did," Suzie laughed.

Jesse, a repeat customer from New York, brought Suzie's pizza boxes to the United States. (Photo/Suzie)

Now, every Wednesday evening, Suzie hosts English corner events at her shop. Visitors walk in and find people from all over the world, from different cultural backgrounds, gathered together. They chat, enjoy snacks, and play music, creating a lively and multicultural atmosphere in her small shop.

"Everyone loves this place, finding it comfortable and great, providing them with emotional value," Suzie said. To her surprise, the English corner even led to dozens of marriages. The immense satisfaction from these gatherings alleviated the fatigue of organizing them, ensuring events would continue well into the future.

Today, Suzie's pizza shop is more than just a livelihood; it's a place brimming with her emotions and memories. It has become a home for many customers, a welcoming haven where they always feel at ease.

A postcard written for Suzie by a foreign customer. (Photo/Suzie)

 (Deng Yawen, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)


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