The staff who support the restaurant. How they are trained
What do you like about doing this work?
I think it’s training people. I have the responsibility of playing the unpleasant role of a “foster parent in Kyoto ” to these young children who will have to make money in order to live in society from now on, telling them things that their parents couldn’t. I teach them that work begins after receiving money from customers. When you’re on site, it’s easy for it to become work no matter what you do, so it’s important that you are somehow able to enjoy it.
Also, unlike the job of president of a normal company, I watch over the condition of the other staff members and pay attention to how I should approach them. People change from day to day. I have to be watching carefully and be sensitive to those changes. Otherwise, the condition of each person can come out in the food.
What is important for the staff as they work?
I tell them to value the limited time they can share with the customers who come all the way here, and to respond to the image of the restaurant that customers picture. The most important thing is to lift your own spirit and be self-possessed while offering service. If the young staff members can understand that, I would like to have them continue working here for a long time.
What kind of people are working at Toriyasa?
We don’t accept young workers who want to train as apprentices in order to reach their dreams. They have many choices outside of our restaurant. The workers we employ are those who opened their own restaurant, but have had to close it. Those kinds of people have perseverance and will work for us for a long time.
The secret soup recipe that has gone unchanged for generations. Arriving at the conclusion that he has to change nothing.
I heard that you have a secret soup that is still made the same way as when the restaurant was established. Can you explain the obsession with this soup?
Over the generations, many people have used trial and error to attempt to improve the soup, but realized that they cannot make it better, so you could say that the flavor is passed down. Previously, when I was asked about doing a collaborative product, I discovered that since our soup is already complete, it cannot be combined with other things. (laughs) It has already been brought to the highest level, so I don’t feel any need to change it. But I think it’s important to subtract the unnecessary things as much as possible in order to bring out the flavor of the ingredients. If you do that, it is gentle on the body and it becomes the thing people want most.
The flow of the times, seen from Kyoto and the Kamo River
Have the customers changed between the past and now?
In the past, most customers were the ideal combination of drinkers, eaters, and good talkers, but now it’s the complete opposite. Even at the same two-hour dinner parties, in the past I felt a strong spirit of liveliness, but now I have the impression that most people take the stance that they were invited, so they came. You might be able to say that now they are more reliable, but… At any rate, when people use cooking or traditional restaurants as a chance to meet with each other, I think their cooperativeness and humanity as an individual are questioned.
Recently, are you having an increase in foreign guests who are in Kyoto for sightseeing?
Yes. Most of them come because they read an article written by local media overseas, or heard of our reputation on a travel blog by people who have been here. Recently we have become so popular that we sometimes need to limit reservations.
What do you keep in mind in order to deal with all kinds of customers?
Even when I’m tired or frazzled, I make sure not to let them see it. People don’t want to go to a restaurant when the owner’s troubles are revealed in his face. (laughs)
Besides, I think it’s easier to talk to customers when you don’t know anything. It’s really hard to talk to people who know too much, or people who know a lot but don’t use it.