代表取締役社長 ･ リチャード･ヒルズ
Tokyo Diner's History
In 1987, when I started Japanese evening classes (more or less by accident), I only thought I’d do them for a couple of months. I felt the whole subject was very interesting, but far too complicated for me to get involved with. Little did I know how Japan would captivate me: its culture is fascinating and beguiling, its language is as rewarding as it is challenging, and its people are charming, warm and enthusiastic. Their encouragement got me over the hardest part of learning the language. After two years, I was ready to go to Japan, where I spent a couple of months having the trip of a lifetime.
During those two years, I used to go to all the Japanese restaurants in London. They were impressive, but they left a lot to be desired. The food was presented very artistically, but it did not really fill you up. The interior design and the atmosphere of those places was like going into the temple of some unknown religion: the hushed reverence made you feel ill at ease and you never knew if you were about to do something terribly embarrassing. When the bill arrived, you were left in no doubt that you had paid a sacrifice at the high alter of Japanese cuisine! Before my first trip to Japan, I remember thinking to myself, “Will I be able to put up with Japanese food every day?”
But the real Japan was so different! When I arrived, I found that Japanese people are very positive about enjoying life; in particular, they are passionate about food. They often eat out three or four times a week, so there is an abundance of different types of restaurant. There were a few restaurants like the ones I had seen in London, but these were a tiny minority. Most places offered delicious, satisfying, ‘ordinary’ food at sensible prices. They were warm and friendly. Above all, they were fun
. Mealtimes became the highlights of every day.
When I returned to London, I found that I hankered after the Japanese experience, so I went back to all my favourite Japanese restaurants here. But having known the delights of cheap, cheerful eateries in Japan, I was no longer willing to spend so much money on a miserable imitation! So, when the launderette below my small flat in Soho became vacant, I jumped at the opportunity to turn the whole building into what has now become Tokyo Diner. We opened in 1992 and it seems that my conviction proved right, because we went into profit within the first month of trading and, despite numerous competitors opening (and closing), we have never been short of customers. We usually serve about 300 meals per day, but our record is over 550.