To increase your izakaya’s sales, put up ironic notices for your customers to laugh at

According to TV Asahi, a Tokyo izakaya called コンロ屋 (konroya) has decided differentiate the price of its beer depending on how you treat the staff when you order beer:

  • 380 yen (the beer’s original price) for saying: “Excuse me. I’ll have a beer, please (すいません。生一つください)”
  • 500 yen for saying: “Get me a beer (生一つ持ってきて)”
  • 1,000 yen for saying: “Oi! Beer! (おい、生ビール)”

Beneath this price list is a notice in red saying:

お客様は神様ではありません。また、当店のスタッフはお客様の奴隷ではありません。当店にとって一人一人が大切な奴隷宝物なのです。皆様のご理解とご協力をお願いいたします

The customer is not always right [lit. not God]. Moreover, our staff are not slaves to our customers. In this store, each and every person is a slave someone to be treasured. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

According to TV Asahi, sales have gone up since the appearance of this price list. Apparently people do yell “Oi! Beer!” just for shits and giggles, but the izakaya has never charged anyone the 1,000 yen penalty (?).

The TV Asahi video partly obscures another accompanying notice, which I find even more hilarious:

当店はブラック企業のため、少人数での営業を余儀なくされています

Because our store is a “black company,” we operate, unavoidably, with the lowest possible headcount.

In an interview with a business magazineKonroya‘s store manager explained the philosophy behind the price differentiation:

皆さんに想像していただきたいです。仕事上での取引先の方と接する際、商談をする際は当たり前のように敬語を使いますよね? 飲食店も同じです。金銭と引き換えに料理、酒などの飲食物を提供する取引をしているという点で全く同じはずなのに、取引先である飲食店のスタッフには、初対面にもかかわらず敬語が使われない現実があります。従業員がお客様に敬語を使わず接した場合、それはおそらく「横柄なスタッフ」「態度の悪いスタッフ」となるでしょう。しかし、敬語を使わないお客様は、変わらず『お客様』のまま。これを肯定する方は、お客様は神様とお考えの方でしょう。私はこれを肯定いたしません。店員とお客様は対等な立場です。

I want everyone to imagine the following. Without question, we use polite language (keigo) at work when we speak with clients or negotiate with business partners, right? It’s the same for restaurants. Instead of money, we provide food and beverages to our clients. It should be exactly the same trade, but the truth is that clients don’t use polite language to our staff even if we’re meeting our clients for the first time. If restaurant staff don’t use polite language to our customers, they’ll be seen as arrogant or having a bad attitude. But customers who don’t use polite language are still our customers. People who think this must also believe that the customer is God. But I don’t. Our staff and our customers are on equal standing.

飲食店は特殊なものです。ご経験のない方には理解しづらい点もあるかと思います。しかし初対面の名前も知らない人間に、いきなり「おい、生ビール」と言われた時の気持ちは決して晴れやかではありません。よし、がんばろう! などとは間違っても思えません。私が思えないのだから、私以外のスタッフ、正社員、アルバイトスタッフのみんなもそうではないのか? いつも身を粉にして、笑顔で一生懸命働いてくれる大事なスタッフにそんな思いをする回数が、この貼り紙をすることでたった一つでも減ったらいいと思いました。

The restaurant has a unique social fabric. If you haven’t worked in one yet, it might be hard for you to understand this. But it definitely doesn’t feel good to have someone whom you’ve just met and whose name you don’t even know to suddenly yell “Oi! Beer!” at you. It doesn’t give me any motivation to work hard. If I feel this way, I bet other staff and our full- and part-time employees must feel the same way. With this price list, I’d be happy if I lower the number of times our hardworking, always smiling staff feel this during work everyday by even just one time.