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Building a Chain in Japan

"Tony Robins"

An old saying in the radio business is ... 'always do your best on the air because you never know who is listening and might offer you a better job. ‘Well, actually that old saying really applies to every profession.

Just ask Vancouver architect Tony Robins. Three years ago Tony designed a Japanese restaurant located on 4th Avenue called the "Shijo". As with all his projects Tony designed everything: exterior, interior, lights, chairs, even the menu.

One evening last year a Japanese businessman stopped by the restaurant for dinner. No one was aware that he was Mr. S. Kondo, owner of the Asakuma Company Ltd., a major conglomerate based in Nagoya, Japan. Mr. Kondo was enroute to San Francisco from Japan and had only stopped in Vancouver for a brief visit. He had no idea the restaurant even existed. He was out for an evening stroll, was caught by its unusual appearance, and walked in.

He was so impressed with the design and decor that he asked to meet the people responsible for its design. He was surprised to learn all of the work was the result of one person, a Vancouver Caucasian named Tony Robins.

The businessman explained to Tony that he was planning a chain of restaurants in Japan and wondered if Tony would take on the project. Tony nearly fell over when he learned the project consisted of 300 restaurants. Each with a budget of one million dollars.

Tony began work on the project immediately. Time has created some delays. The right locations in Japan are more difficult to acquire than expected. Plus, costs have increased to 1.2 million per location, causing the project to be scaled down to 200 restaurants.

The first will open in Nagoya this year (1991). Thirty will open in Tokyo and Nagoya in 1992. It's expected all 200 outlets will be operating within six years.

As Tony explained. .. "The success of this project is based on the economics of scale. Once we open the first one, we have to get a number underway in order to effect cost savings."

Tony will tell you that getting this project was ... "A little bit of luck”. Don't you believe it. The project would never have come his way had he not designed the "Shijo" properly and then followed through with quality in every detail. Look how it paid off for him. There is a lesson there for everyone.

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