Needless to say, the prideful Cripple Wang fiercely beat up his fat wife when he got home. Only when the queue for taste-testing in front of The Yu’s Braised Food Shop had stretched long and far did she return, limping, to get the braised pig’s knuckles.
The fat matron with her droopy triangular eyes squeezed her way to the front, then quietly picked up a toothpick and tasted all the dishes on display. Behind her, people who did not understand the situation and felt unhappy that she jumped her queue said, “Line up, line up! We all have to wait; how can you jump the queue!”
“Line up? I’ve already lined up before to order the meat, and I only went back home to get more money! What are you whining about, huh? Do you need to rush back to cry at a funeral?!” Without Cripple Wang around, this fat lady quickly resumed her outrageous and unreasonable behavior.
The person who she had refuted was not willing to back down, “Who needs to rush back to cry at a funeral? With that ominous mouth of yours, Cripple Wang must’ve collected eight lifetimes of misfortune to have married you! You didn’t bring money? What meat do you want to buy if you didn’t bring money? I think you just need a good beating! Where’s Cripple Wang? Are you not going to control your own wife? If anything happens to my bedridden mother, it’s definitely because your wife cursed her! See if I won’t bring the body to your house!”
The fat matron abruptly stopped talking once he mentioned Cripple Wang. She took the pig’s knuckles that Xiaocao handed over and hurried home in silence.
Most of the people who came to attend the taste-testing event were still quite disciplined and followed the rules. They were immediately attracted by the taste of the braised food store’s dishes once they had a bite. Moreover, the dishes were sold at half-price today, and thus the cost of many of the dishes were even enough to make a profit! Majority of the tasters would buy a few braised dishes home, and even the people whose families faced financial difficulties would also buy some braised dry tofu and kelp. The dry tofu and kelp had been braised in the braising sauce used to braise pork, so it was filled with the flavor of meat. The price was also cheap, so people bought some of it to sate the children’s cravings.
Nevertheless, there were still some who wanted to take advantage of the activity and brought their entire family to queue up just to taste all of the dishes. The Yu Family did not discriminate against these people, but instead warmly welcomed them to taste-test and earnestly listened to their opinions until these people began to feel ashamed themselves. It had to be said that the people of this era were quite simple and adorable.
At noon, the taste-test event ended. After hearing the people, who had tried the food, sing praises about the food, many of the people, who had heard the news and rushed there from the west and south of the city, regretted not taking the new store seriously when they first heard news about it. Their attitude had now caused them to miss the opportunity to eat free food. Many also went up to enquire if there would be a chance for a free food tasting the next day.
In a single morning, the people had tasted two roasted chickens, two roasted ducks, two salted ducks, two smoked sausages...and half a braised pig. Yu Caifeng’s heart ached so much that she stomped her feet at her niece’s generosity. Just like this, she had gratuitously given out a few dozen taels!
Fortunately, more braised dishes were sold today compared to the dishes they offered for free. Even though the dishes were sold at about the same as the cost of making them, the pigs were reared by themselves, so they had saved up a little on the cost. After a rough calculation, they still earned a little profit.
The second day was the official start of the business. Yu Xiaocao had requested for her brother to write a new flyer overnight using a large and eye-catching font: Grand Opening Promotion! Half-price Sale for Three Days!
This time, even her little brother did not understand her. Holding a free taste-test event on the first day was a gimmick to attract new customers for the shop. The event was quite successful, so why did they still need to do a half-price sale for three days? How much profit would they lose in these three days?
Yu Xiaocao met everyone’s disapproving gaze and explained with a smile, “Our free food tasting event is quite successful, but the prefectural city is huge, and the people who had tasted our braised dishes were mostly the people nearby. This half-priced event lasting for three days would definitely be able to attract more customers from far and wide. I strongly believe that as long as they’ve tried our dishes, they would become our regulars and supporters!”
Taking a breath, Yu Xiaocao continued, “The poultry in our store are sold in limited numbers and the price isn’t low, so we’ll still be able to make up for the cost. We also use our own pigs for the braised and smoked meat that will sell in larger volumes. Look, we’d let them have a free taste of half a pig today, but we still made profit in the end. Trust me, even if we sold our dishes at half-price, we’d still be able to profit!”
Yu Caifeng, who had been the strongest opposition, sighed in relief after hearing her explanation, “As long as we don’t suffer losses, you can do whatever you wish! Oh, right, should we prepare a feast tomorrow to celebrate the grand opening?”
Liu Hu and Yu Hai turned their gazes to Yu Xiaocao. When it came to running a business, Yu Xiaocao was much more capable than the whole family of simple folk. Just like this, a young twelve year old girl had become the mainstay of the family.
Yu Xiaocao pondered on it, and then said, “Everyone has been busy preparing for the grand opening these past few days, so let’s book a table at Zhenxiu Restaurant tomorrow afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of The Yu’s Braised Food Shop!”
Yu Caifeng had already made a habit out of saving, so she immediately had her opposition, “Zhenxiu Restaurant? How much would a table cost ah! We ourselves run a business of food, we have roasted duck, roasted chicken, and even all types of braised and smoked meat, why would we need to spend that money? Moreover, there’s no one else but us, why not just prepare our own feast in the inner courtyard?”
The entire family thought that they might as well eat in the inner courtyard since there was no one else they were acquainted with in the prefectural city, and the grand opening was also just a process in which they lit the firecrackers and removed the red cloth on the plaque. Not to mention, they already had the ingredients and the cooking was not really troublesome. Seeing that everyone agreed to her oldest aunt’s opinion, Yu Xiaocao did not continue to press the matter.
At dawn the next day, even before the braised food store had opened its doors, someone had knocked on the courtyard doors. When they opened the door, a grumpy Royal Prince Yang met them. Huffing in annoyance, he lectured Yu Xiaocao as soon as he saw her, “You never told me about such a big event as the grand opening. Am I nothing in your eyes? If I hadn’t come to the prefectural city for business and dropped by to have a look, I wouldn’t even know that the grand opening of your family’s store is today!”
With a flattering smile on her face, Yu Xiaocao laughed drily, “I was just afraid that you, the Young Royal Prince, would be busy. If I knew that you were going to visit the prefectural city around this time, I would definitely convince you to agree to unveil the store plaque! It’s not just the prefectural city, even in the capital city, it would be a great honor to have Young Royal Prince help us unveil the store plaque. Other people wouldn’t dare to even dream of it!”
“Hmph! Unveiling the store plaque? You wish! You want me to unveil the store plaque even when you didn’t inform me of the grand opening? Dream on!” The young prince’s arrogance bared itself again. He turned his head to one side, but his captivating phoenix eyes secretly kept watch of Yu Xiaocao’s every move. His entire body screamed, ‘Beg me, come beg this prince!’
Head Steward Liu held in his laugh, solemnly nodding, “My master has yet to give anyone face and help them to unveil their store’s plaque. Even for Her Highness the Princess Consort’s own shops, my master had only graced them with his presence before he left…”
“Oh wow, I must be really lucky then—to have the sole honor in the entire Great Ming Dynasty, to invite Royal Prince Yang, the emperor’s most trusted aide, to unveil the plaque of our store!” Yu Xiaocao circled him while she tried to flatter him.
Zhu Junyang acted haughty, “When did this prince agree to unveil your store’s plaque? Stop dreaming!”
“Oh, Young Royal Prince is still grumpy over the fact that I didn’t inform you of the grand opening! Please be forgiving and don’t lower yourself to my level! After these few days, I will personally make ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’ for you!” Seeing that the young prince’s clothes was damp from the morning dew, Yu Xiaocao was touched as she figured that he had relentlessly hurried over once he had gotten the news. After the young prince sat down, she served him a cup of mystic-stone water to relieve fatigue. Then, she massaged his shoulders and his arms like his little attendant.
Hearing ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’, Zhu Junyang was immediately intrigued and pushed away her hands that massaged him, seemingly to please him, and said solemnly, “Men and women should not be so close to each other, keep your distance! Now tell me, what is ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’? Why haven’t I heard you mention this before?”
Yu Xiaocao inwardly rolled her eyes, ‘He was indeed a closet foodie. Such a pretty lady at his side offering her attention, yet he had only kept his focus on his appetite and ignored her efforts completely. Sigh...Young Royal Prince, you’re so dense that the princess consort must worry herself sick over your marriage…’
“The fragrance spreads far and wide; upon smelling it, Buddha will stop meditating and jump over the wall. Even Buddha cannot resist the temptation, would it be possible for it to taste bad? However, I’ve never made this dish before, so I’ll have to ponder over it for a while…” Would she be able to make ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’ if she followed the recipe that she learned on Baidu  in her previous life...
“Xiaocao, the head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant has come to congratulate us!” Yu Hai had not expected more people to come with felicitations aside from the royal prince, so he hurried forward to greet him.
The head manager smiled, “Brother Yu, with the relationship of our two families, how can you not tell us about your grand opening!”
Yu Hai smiled back, frankly replying, “It’s just a small store. We hadn’t planned to inform anyone at all and just celebrate amongst ourselves…”
The manager replied in disapproval, “Our third young master is in the capital and can’t make it here on time, so I, as his subordinate, will represent him to congratulate you. Do forgive him!”
“Nonsense!” Once Yu Xiaocao took care of the young prince, she moved over to address him, smiling, “Uncle Manager, you’re currently the manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant, even a lot of nobles in the capital will need to hold you in a higher esteem. It is our braised food store’s honor to welcome you! Please, come in. Little Shitou, serve Uncle Manager the good tea we bought a few days back!”
Little Shitou complied, leading the manager to the inner courtyard and serving him good tea and refreshments. A few moments later, Little Shitou’s good friends and roommates, Sun Runze and Liu Jinye also arrived with their fathers to celebrate the grand opening.
Between the two of them, one of them was the prefectural magistrate’s secretary, while the other was the boss of the largest silk and satin store in the prefectural city, and both held quite a high standing in the prefectural city. Little Shitou hurriedly invited them inside. The two men were surprised to see the head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant—it seemed that the Yu Family was quite well regarded by the Zhou Family.
Following that, the two were even more shocked to see that the prefectural magistrate had lowered his status to come and congratulate the Yu Family. The prefectural magistrate only came because he had received news of Royal Prince Yang’s arrival. For the royal prince to hurry over just for the grand opening of Yu Family’s small braised food store, it was enough to see his favoritism towards them. According to the rumors, the royal prince even went so far as to ask for the Yu Family to be rewarded in court!
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