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Wudaoying Hutong's restaurants turn the lane into Beijing's next Nanluoguxiang

After a delectable dinner of pesto pasta at the [Vineyard Café](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/dining/european/has/vineyard-cafe/) a few weeks ago, I decided to overcome my food coma with a stroll down Wudaoying Hutong. Though I frequent the area, I was surprised to notice the proliferation of cafés and shops. There’s even a stylish spa now. While overnight change in Beijing seems to be the norm, I was curious about what’s transforming this once dusty lane into an up-and-coming destination. The Vineyard opened in 2006–the sole establishment on the block. Proprietor Will Yorke explains, “When we picked the spot everyone thought we were mad. One of the women who lived nearby kept on asking me ‘Why here? No one will come!’ I said, ‘No problem, we have confidence.’” While the Vineyard paved the way for others to open shop, it has also brought financial benefits to local residents, including Will’s initially skeptical neighbor. “Last week she rented her 15 sq. meter room for ¥4,500 a month,” Will says. Ming Zhai, owner of two month old café [L’infusion](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/dining/cafes/has/linfusion/), explained the attraction behind this particular lane: “I think that this street has the potential to be the second Nanluoguxiang, but I like it because it’s quieter.” Ming also told me that the local Dongcheng district government has taken an interest in the street, visiting local shops to discuss improvements that need to be made to attract more businesses. Further down the hutong, [Saffron](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/listings/dining/mediterranean/has/saffron/) owner Li Yang attributes her decision to open the Mediterranean restaurant here to fate. Li told me that when she and her husband opened the eatery a year ago, they weren’t nervous about their location being a little off the beaten track. Laughing, she said, “Our first restaurant was much more difficult to find. It was inside a factory! This is much better.” For restaurateurs thinking about opening their doors in Wudaoying, Will thinks there’s still room for entrepreneurs with good ideas. Or, he suggests, they could pick their own unknown hutong, open up a business and let the cycle of developing new neighborhoods continue.

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