King of barbecue reveals secrets to his success-family, Han Chinese friends

By WANG JIAN/CUI JIA | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-11 06:46

King of barbecue reveals secrets to his success-family, Han Chinese friends

Abdulla Uraxim (left) talks to his mother through a video call with his wife, Roz Nishahan, daughter and son on Sunday. Abdulla lives in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, and his mother in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. MA ZUOPENG/CHINA DAILY

Abdulla Uraxim owns 13 restaurants in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

Originally from a village in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Abdulla recently wrote a letter to his elderly mother back home revealing the secret to his success-having the help of his Han Chinese friends every step of the way.

Abdulla, 45, and his wife, Roz Nishahan, left home to do business in Nanchang in 2002 because his family didn't have much money and he was determined to become a successful businessman in the city so his mother could have a better life.

He and his wife initially made 4,000 yuan ($590) a year selling raisins, a Xinjiang specialty, near the train station during their first year in the city. It was a lot of money at the time for Abdulla, who had always been a farmer.

"They were tough times, too, when I first started, but Nanchang people were always there for us. They found us a place to live when we almost became homeless and lent us money when I was desperate," he said.

It rained a lot in Nanchang during the summer, and when it did Abdulla struggled to find customers and make enough money to support his family by just selling raisins. In 2006, he decided to explore business opportunities in other provinces.

They began selling melons in Zhejiang province, and he noticed another street vendor's Chinese pancake business was booming. Abdulla decided to master the skill. "The vendor was from Henan province. She tried her best to teach me. I was so grateful," he said.

He then returned to Nanchang, and set up a stall selling pancakes, until 2009 while his fortune accumulated. But in 2010, street vendors, including Abdulla, were banned from operating near the train station as a part of the government's move to create a better city environment.

That was when Abdulla got to know Xu Yong, a police officer who was in charge of the enforcement. He argued with Xu and played cat-and-mouse with him to avoid being removed from the train station area, Abdulla said.

"I told him (Xu) that I couldn't afford to rent the place I want for a small barbecue restaurant. He immediately contacted the owner and said he would be my guarantor so I didn't need to pay the full deposit," said Abdulla, who now calls Xu his police brother.

By 2010, Abdulla's Uygur-style lamb skewers gained popularity among the people of Nanchang for their flavor and quality. He and his brothers expanded the business-Abdulla's Barbecue King-and opened more restaurants in 2012. At the time, Abdulla had become more popular and made more local friends.

"Now, the name of my restaurants is better known than your son's name in Nanchang. Without the help from my Han Chinese friends, I wouldn't be here today," Abdulla wrote in his letter to his 80-year-old mother in her native Uygur.

Since his business has become a success, Abdulla said he will recruit more unemployed locals and help those in need because Nanchang has become his second home.

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