Restaurant Offers Those Who Can't Afford Meal Alternative Way to Pay
Ever hear of something called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It was first introduced in 1943 by an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow.
It’s often depicted in the form of a multi-layered pyramid. Maslow placed what he considered fundamental human needs toward the base — including the need for essential nourishment.
Maslow felt that this was followed closely by the need for well-being and personal security.
And he theorized that once those foundational needs are satisfied, people also deeply crave human connection, respect, and self-esteem.
Sakai Kobayashi may have never encountered Maslow, or any of his theories regarding the human quest for fulfillment.
But that same inclusive spirit is alive and well at her Tokyo-based restaurant Mirai Shokudo (in English, “Future Eatery”).
Sakai Kobayashi is a 33-year-old former engineer. She opened her establishment two years ago, in the city’s Jinbocho district.
This forward-thinking proprietor has told news sources that back when she was a university student, she used to run a small café stocked with books during annual school festivals.
She’s mentioned that this early food and beverage foray was quite successful, earning her first prize in the festival popularity contest every year she participated.
Even though Mirai Shokudo employs no other staff besides herself, Sakai Kobayashi explains that she’s devised ways to keep her business profitable. What’s her intriguing recipe?
“We offer meals in return for 50 minutes of labor at the restaurant,” she explains to media outlets. In other words, customers have the option to pay directly — or simply earn a free meal by helping to clear tables, clean up, or serve orders.
“I use this system,” she says, “because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money.” And so far, her approach seems to be amazingly successful.
To date, more than 500 customers — among them university students — have chosen to work for their meals.
Some go this route because they don’t have spare pocket change; others are simply attempting to save money by contributing to a greater cause.
Visitors who opt to provide labor can either dine for no charge, or receive a voucher for a free meal. This coupon can be left at the restaurant’s entrance, so anyone can use it.
If you think about it, this ingenious tactic manages to satisfy several of Maslow’s core human “pyramid” needs all at once. In the process, as Sakai Kobayashi observes, it also makes Mirai Shokudo “a place where everyone is welcome, and everyone fits in.”
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