Sake bar opening preparation

Setting a target date to open a business will always bring about some unanticipated challenges.  Those challenges are compounded when launching a business in a foreign country.  Yesterday was a good example of how some typical days are before opening.


Any business in the Yokohama area that serves and sells a beverage is categorized as a restaurant establishment.  This applies even if there is no food service.  The moment you open the container of a beverage and sell it to a customer, the business is required for a restaurant permit.  Knowing this, it was necessary to install two additional sinks to the existing sink already on premise.  After a three week delay of waiting for a proposal and plan from a contractor for the sink installation, a response arrived.  The next step was to submit the plan for approval to the local government office.


Yokohama is in the Nishi-ku ward.  For all the convenience that Yokohama Station offers, access to the local ward government office is not one.   The plan was to arrive at the 9:00 opening time.  After some morning tasks, the fifteen minute walk to the office proved to be faster than any transportation options.  There was nobody else ahead of us.  The government staff reviewed the plans, thoroughly asked questions, and made some minor modifications and suggestions.  The time investment was about two hours total.  In addition to the sink, there is a requirement to have a storage area dedicated for staff uniforms.  Overall, the meeting and process was smooth with no major surprises.  With approved plans, we could move forward with installation, and scheduled an inspection date for May 30th.


After returning to the business location, it was time to prepare labels for the sake bottles.  The labels for the sake bottles not contain the price per cup, but also a condensed source of product specification.  These labels or tags are the size of credit card and hang from the neck of the bottle.  It contains the following information for each product:  sake category, sake grade, rice type, alcohol percentage, nihonshu do (sake meter value), and sando (acidity content).  This information is available in both English and Japanese.


This was the debut for the new printer.  Before any labels and tags could be printed, the printer needed to be configured with the wifi and computer.  If you are not fluent with reading the Japanese language, this is an impossible task.  Even for someone that is Japanese and tech savvy, it will sink another hour of time from your planned day.


Around the same in the afternoon, a delivery arrived.  The delivery was for a shipment of sixteen empty ishobin.  Ishobin is the large 1.8 liter sake bottle.  The empty bottles were a request made to the Meishu Center in Tokyo.  These additional bottles will help add to the display currently on the blackboard.  The custom designed bottle holders provide a unique perception of a floating image of the colorful assortment of sake bottles on the wall.  It was satisfying to rearrange the bottles and fill in the empty areas of the wall.  At the end of the day, it feels good to see a physical or visual sign of progress.