Without a doubt, one of the best things about living in Japan is the excellent service you receive on a daily basis here, and if I were in the restaurant business I’d look to Japan for ideas about how I could improve the customer experience at my restaurants. One thing I love is the custom of handing out hot towels (called oshibori) to customers who’ve just sat down to order — nothing feels better than cleaning your hands (and face, which is bad manners but everyone does it) with a steaming hot towel, and it’d be great if restaurant chains in the U.S. adopted this practice. Another innovation I’m a fan of are electronic buttons on your table which you press when you’re ready to order. The staff sees your table number light up on a board and instantly appears to take your order, avoiding stress about how to get your server’s attention. While I’m making recommendations to the U.S. restaurant industry, why hasn’t any chain latched onto yakitori (Japanese teriyaki chicken on a stick), or flamboyant drinks like “grapefruit sour” (a shochu-based drink that comes with half a fresh grapefruit that you wring out yourself, adding the juice to your drink)? I’m sure there are a ton of potential ideas from Japan, just waiting to be popularized.
Here’s a hot towel for you, sir. Have you decided what you want to order?