Waiters Must Be ‘Ivy League’ Graduates to Make $29,000 a Year at This Hot Pot Restaurant

A new hot pot restaurant in eastern China requires waiters to hold degrees from the country’s “Ivy League” universities.

In its announcement, the restaurant specifies that it seeks 10 waiters who are graduates of “985” schools — top-tier institutions such as Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan Universities.


The restaurant, located in Zhengzhou, Henan province draws its unusual standard from the “985 Project,” an initiative of former President Jiang Zemin that aims to promote China’s higher education system.

Zemin launched the project on May 4, 1998 — hence the “985,” taking its year and month — corresponding to the 100th anniversary of Peking University.

The restaurant’s recruitment ad

For this reason, it comes as no surprise that the restaurant brands itself as “985 Hot Pot College.” Aside from being “985” graduates, applicants must also be between the ages of 20 and 30, China Youth Daily reported.

The establishment promises an annual salary of around 200,000 yuan ($29,000), more than twice the local average wage (6,903 yuan/$1,005 a month) and eight times more than Zhengzhou waiters typically make (2,000 yuan/$290 a month), Beijing Evening News noted.

The exterior of “985 Hot Pot College” restaurant

As of Jan. 2, the hashtag “Hotpot Restaurant Requires 985 Diploma in Recruiting Waiters” (#火锅店招服务员要求985) received more than 290 million views on Weibo, with netizens having mixed opinions about it.

Some thought that the restaurant “insults” graduates of such universities, while others stressed that the establishment has the right to set up its own employment standards.

Inside the restaurant. Image via Pear Video

Still, some suspected that it was all just a marketing stunt.

Weibo users commented:

“What is the relationship between a 985 degree and being a waiter? To be good and responsible is what matters.”

“People want highly-educated management talents, but they need to work for a while to fully understand the front line. Just like bank recruitment, no matter how high the degree, you have to start from the counter.”

“There are no 985 colleges in Henan. Who are you recruiting?”

“Will the delivery person require a master’s degree?”

“The advertising fee is enough.”

Mr. Ding heads the restaurant’s recruitment process. Image via Pear Video

In response to the controversy, the restaurant released a statement on Jan. 2. It argued that everyone “has the right to pursue their dreams” and that it hopes to find talents it can grow together with.

“Every person and organization has the right to pursue their dreams,” The Paper quoted recruitment head Mr. Ding as saying. “Our Chinese dream is to be the key 985 university in the hot pot world.”

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