tokyo restaurant lets you work a 50-minute shift to earn a free meal

Do you ever get a craving for restaurant food until you remember that you are broke? This one restaurant in Tokyo could solve your problem.

Here, the owner has got your back. If you do not have the money to pay, you can get your meal by working a 50-minute shift instead.

Welcome To The Future

Restaurant Mirai Shokudo (in English, ‘Future Eatery’) opened in Tokyo in 2015. It is a tiny restaurant with just 12 seats around the counter.

Behind it, over 500 people have served customers in exchange for a meal. Owner Sekai Kobayashi calls it an ‘open-source’ restaurant.

Some of the helpers were thrifty university students; some were middle-aged people dreaming of opening their own restaurant. With an ever-changing staff, Kobayashi never gets bored. Simply said:

“I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money.”

From Engineer To Restaurant Owner

tokyo restaurant lets you work a 50-minute shift to earn a free meal
tokyo restaurant lets you work a 50-minute shift to earn a free meal

Kobayashi used to work as a software engineer at a food recipe website, Cookpad Inc., before opening her own shop. 

In the office kitchen, she would often prepare meals for her colleagues. The co-workers praised her cooking and encouraged her to pursue a new path.

She is now a pioneer for a new restaurant concept, where customers contribute to the business. In doing so, they get a free meal and a unique experience to match.

An Open-Source Restaurant

The open-source model of Mirai Shokudo goes further than that. Kobayashi is also sharing the business finances with the public. In an interview, she explained:

“To manage my restaurant, I 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.”

Being open about her budget and finances, she hopes to receive feedback and learn how to do things better. She continued:

“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.”

There is more: Kobayashi also wants to provide a blueprint to follow for others. She hopes that her public business plan will encourage other ambitious people. In her words:

“Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work.”

While Tokyo is not around the corner, hopefully, we will see similar projects blooming worldwide. If you are a restaurant owner or want to become one, take notes…