24 » OpenRoad Driver 1 2 4 A lot of people admire Japan for quality, service and attention to detail. I guess one part of that is the concept of Omotenashi. What does that mean to you? SN: There is actually not a specific definition for the term, Omotenashi. In the dictionary it means warm service. In Japan, when someone comes into a restaurant, that person is everyone’s guest. Not like in North America, where you are assigned to serve a section and you focus on specific tables to serve. When we came to Vancouver, we wanted to combine both ways. When a customer comes in, everybody greets, and that customer is everyone’s guest. At the same time, we will also have servers for specific tables after the guests are seated, and that is how we combine the Japanese and North American ways. That is also connected to our philosophy of Ningenmi. Can you talk about your philosophy of Ningenmi? That is also very important in your company. SN: Ningenmi is our corporate philosophy and it has two meanings. First, finding joy yourself while providing joy to someone 5 3 1 Miku’s beautiful hand-painted murals are the work of acclaimed Japanese artist, Hideki Kimura. 2 Head Sushi Chef Shingo Fujiwara works with unique garnishes such as the shiso flower and the kiku flower. 3 The Aburi Prime dish is unique to Miku, including the Fukuoka Miyabi-dai with monkfish liver, and the Akami Maguro with seared Brome Lake foie gras. 4 Aritayaki plateware is imported from the artisanal porcelain town of Arita in the Saga prefecture of Japan. 5 The Lexus LC 500 coupe comes from the same Motomachi plant in Japan that created the LFA supercar, the product of Lexus Takumi artisan masters. else. When you find joy by serving guests and discover that they are happy, that comes back to you and makes you feel happy. And if you are happily serving the guest, the guest will feel happy. It’s a good two-way connection. Second, respect and trust. It doesn’t matter who you are, the boss or staff. You need to respect and trust each other. will give them the choice. The restaurant business is a very hard industry. Normally it is perceived as a sub kind of work where some people have primary jobs, and they just want to earn some extra money at the restaurant, and then do something else. We want people to discover that it can be a profession with lots of opportunities to move forward. You talked about expansion in the world. You now have restaurants in Japan, Vancouver and Toronto. Where is your next location? In society today, there are many young people who want to start their own business and become entrepreneurs. What is the one piece of advice that you would give to young entrepreneurs to become successful? SN: After Japan and Canada, it will be the U.S. Some of your chefs have been with you for a long time. Are there any secrets to keeping long-time staff members? Any strategies? SN: The first thing is we share the vision and what we want to do. Everybody knows what we want to achieve. If you don’t know where you are going, you are confused and lose interest. Also, we don’t force them to do anything. If they want to be in the company and achieve something in their lives, we will help them and we SN: One thing is to take action because the world is always changing. When you want to create something, you can think and talk about it, but without action, nothing is going to happen. So one thing Seigo-san is proud of is, “I do what I say and take action.” You can make mistakes but you can learn from that. Young people should not just think and keep it inside. Just act on your thoughts and change will happen.