In Tokyo, in the Jinbōchō area there is a little restaurant called Mirai Shokudo, where clients can pay their own meal by working: by doing the dishes, by serving as waiters or serving at the tables. A 50 minutes work shift at the Mirai Shokudo (that translates as Restaurant of the Future) is enough to pay the bill.
Who can afford it has of course the possibility to pay meals with money.
The idea was born from the owner of the restaurant, Sekai Kobayashi, 33 year-old, who is an ex IBM engineer. She is the only member of the staff of the restaurant, a genuine restaurant, simple and welcoming: 12 covers, food cooked by the owner of the restaurant herself, meals are around 900 yen (around 6.50 euro) and 12 clients hosted around a wooden counter.
Once the client has completed his/her 50- minute shift, he/she can decide whether to consume the meal immediately or to donate it to another client (with the “Pay it forward”mechanism), by hanging a ticket on the wall at the entrance of the restaurant.
«When I opened the restaurant in 2016», explains Kobayashi, «I wanted to create a place where everybody was welcome and felt at ease, meet new people but especially offer a meal to people that otherwise couldn’t afford to eat out».
The restaurant in two years has already provided a job to over 500 people thanks to this peculiar scheme. These part-time workers are not only poor or unemployed people , but also university students on a short budget, or simply people who want to get an experience to then open a restaurant, or also to learn how to cook.
I opened the restaurant in 2016, I wanted to create a place where everybody was welcome and felt at ease, meet new people but especially offer a meal to people that otherwise couldn’t afford to eat outside
«I have managed to keep my business profitable», says Sekai Kobayashy speaking about her business, where a daily special for lunch costs 900 yen (about 6.50 euros).
The young owner has adopted an open-source model– a system through which software design is made available for free to the public so that everyone can improve upon it, she explained on Nextshark website, specifying how in practice this open-source model works:
«I posted the restaurant’s business plan and finances on its website so I can collect input from the public on how to make improvements. This information is also available for those who want to open their own restaurants. Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work».
I have adopted an open-source model, posting the restaurant’s business plan and finances on its website, so that I can collect input from the public on how to make improvements. Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work
The website publishes a calendar with the shifts of the volunteers, who in order to work have to wear an apron and a bandana and to show to the owner they are in good health conditions, and that they are able to speak Japanese or English.