If Chinese Takeouts were a franchise they would be the largest franchise in America. There are more than 40,000 Chinese takeout restaurants, which is almost three times more than McDonalds 15,000. They take little space if needed and are versatile where they fit. They’re perfect for low rent areas. The purpose of them looking cheap and the same is that you know exactly what you’re getting – a greasy meal for under $10. This is critical to their business, because they want you to know that they’ve got fortune cookies, egg rolls, and fried chicken over rice even if none of these are actually Chinese.
Yes, there IS a Chinese Restaurant starter kit. If you visit a lot of the Asian supply stores for these takeouts, they have the same variation of materials over and over again. The supply stores literally have all the materials a Chinese restaurant needs because they’re so ubiquitous. Essentially a Chinese takeout is one of the cheapest ‘franchises’ to start and run. Even the meat and food is sourced from the same companies. In NYC, the Flushing area and Chinatown areas have supply stores that offer everything a Chinese takeout needs to run from signs to menu photos. So everything is premade and basically standardized. They even have premade menu layouts too. This also makes hiring easy because the same migrant workers have been cooking the same thing, everywhere. There’s even a sub-industry of products made specifically for the Chinese takeout industry. Imagine trying to sell a food invention you made to McDonalds to its 15,000 branches and the years it takes to roll out. Or you can target 40,000 Chinese takeouts and start selling now. For example, oyster pails are not found in Asia but you’ll see them all over America. There are companies that make money doing nothing but selling oyster pails with ‘Chinese style’ takeaway prints on them.
Chinese takeouts stand forever because they’re often resold at super cheap prices. As little as $50,000 will get you an existing takeout and the staff typically make around $1,300-$2,500 a month. This makes it incredibly easy to maintain many of them, and quick to offload to someone else if you need to move on. They all have similar layouts because Chinese carpenters and workers know how to set up a Chinese take out efficiently. Even the sign names are the same because the sign stores have premade Chinese takeout signs. Hence why there are so many “Great Wall, Spring Garden, Panda-whatever, China-this, Lantern-that and Golden what-have-you”. When a new owner comes in, they don’t bother changing much, if anything. However if the restaurant is found with some health code violation for the above reasons, a change of ownership is easy too, even on paper.
I suggest reading The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee if you ant to learn more. The hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants are part of a hidden social network that brings immigrants from China, finds places for them to live, and gives them gainful employment, so they can send money back to their families. It’s really pretty interesting.