Auctioning Reservation Rights to Popular Restaurants…Why Customers Are Rushing to “Shokuokuokuoku | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Auctioning Reservation Rights to Popular Restaurants…Why Customers Are Rushing to “Shokuokuokuoku

A new service called "Shokuokuoku" was launched on October 11. Bidding prices have already skyrocketed, reaching 400,000 yen in some cases.

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The “Shokuoku” website lists nine restaurants known for their extreme difficulty in making reservations.

A new service symbolic of the Reiwa era was launched on October 11, 2012.

Shokuokuoku” auctions off reservation rights to popular restaurants where reservations are almost impossible except for regular customers. The service auctions off seats provided by the restaurant, and the winning bidder wins the right to reserve that seat.

Currently, there are nine restaurants registered on Shokuokuoku. These include the members-only “Sushi Saito” (Tokyo), which is known for having “given up” its three Michelin stars, and the Chinese restaurant “Saika” (Kyoto), which is fully booked for the next six months.

Koji Yamazawa, 50, president of Shokuokuoku, Inc., which operates Shokuokuokuoku, explains the reason for starting the service: “I used to be an advertising agency.

I used to work for an advertising agency, and from the time I was a young employee with a low monthly salary, I liked to stretch my legs and eat at popular restaurants. I had the opportunity to talk with the owners of so-called ‘hard-to-reserve restaurants,’ and I began to see the “situation” that the restaurant industry was facing.

It is no exaggeration to say that restaurant sales are all about “number of seats x sales per customer. This is no different for restaurants that have difficulty making reservations, and no matter how popular they are, their sales have reached a plateau. Compared to the rest of the world, restaurants in Japan are cheap, and the average annual salary in the industry is as low as 1.2 million yen. With such limited sales, we have to train artisans, and everyone is really struggling. Furthermore, the cost of purchasing food ingredients has also skyrocketed. There are various reasons for this, such as the increase in purchases from overseas due to the weak yen, but in the case of sushi restaurants, ‘good fish’ is becoming harder and harder to come by.

That is why Mr. Yamazawa started “Shokuokuoku” (food auction). The profits from the auctions are returned to the restaurants, helping to eliminate the headache of sales. He also plans to establish a new general incorporated association and make donations to primary industries such as agriculture and fisheries.

When we released “Shokuokuoku” in September, it caused a bit of a firestorm, so let me explain a little more (laughs). At first, people thought that I, as president, would auction off the reservation slots that I personally hold and monopolize the profits, but that is not the case at all. What I will be selling at the auction is only the rights to the “newly offered seats” from the restaurant. We are not cutting into the reservation slots that our regular customers already have. We auction off seats that the restaurant has graciously offered to us on days when they would normally not be open, such as when they are closed, or between lunch and dinner. The reason why the nine restaurants were willing to reduce their holidays, even though they were already very busy, was because they agreed with the “Shokuokuoku” philosophy. Without the cooperation of the stores, Shokuokuoku would not be possible.

What is sold at the auction is only the right to reserve a seat. The cost of food and beverages ordered at the restaurant will be charged separately. Naturally, the total amount to be paid is quite large, so Mr. Yamazawa was hoping to increase the number of members little by little, but since its release in September, “Shokuokuokuoku” has been inundated with member registrations. However, since its release in September, “Shokuokuoku” has been inundated with member registrations.

Thankfully, more than 3,200 people have already become members of Shokuokuoku,” said Yamazawa. We believe that there was such a need for this service, which is why there are so many different uses, such as businessmen who want to use it for special dinners and SNS influencers who want to show that they have been to a restaurant that is difficult to reserve.

Although “Shokuokuoku” seems to be a new service that matches supply and demand, there are some challenges. One is the soaring bidding price. In fact, there have already been cases where the winning bid has been as high as 400,000 yen for two seats, and if the number of “reservation seekers” from overseas increases in the future, the price may soar to a level that the average person can never afford.

There are still concerns for the stores as well.

Many stores are worried that customers who have been banned from their stores will also come to their stores. If there is even one strange customer, the atmosphere of the store will change. …… We will check the successful bidders against the store to see if they are people who have been banned in the past, but that will not completely prevent it. We plan to consider countermeasures in that area as we run the operation.”

Eventually, “Shokuoku” is envisioning the auction of canceled seats and the overseas expansion of hard-to-reserve restaurants located in Paris and New York ( ). Will it be able to overcome the various challenges and take root as a new service in Reiwa?

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