Tachinomi, standing sake bar style
Japan is known for their compact way of living. There are several reasons for this. Nearly seventy percent of the country is mountainous and uninhabitable. Therefore, space and real estate is at a premium. Have you noticed the multi story parking structures that operate with automation and hydraulic lifts? Or even bicycle parking that is automated. Bicycles are very common method of commuting to train stations in Japan. Bicycle parking can occupy precious land space in valuable real estate areas. Now, with technology and engineering, bicycle parking is moving underground. Located street level is an elevator that will secure your bicycle and transport to an assigned parking space underground without the owner having to leave street level.
This, along with Japan’s housing reputation of compact and minimalistic spaces, has naturally created to the logic of standing bars of Japan. These standing bars are referred to as Tachinomi. Tachi means “stand” and nomi means “drink”. The origins of tachinomi are associated with the Japanese “salaryman” that would go for a quick drink and bite to eat after work. While that concept still exists today, standing bars have evolved.
Which was once a salaryman hangout, today standing bars will attract both men and women, as well as some younger patrons. It largely depends on the venue’s reputation for food and beverage selection . The traditional tachinomi was a place for a beer and sake with a small serving of food. Today certain standing bars will specialize in wine only, or craft beer only.
The resurgence of premium craft sake has attracted not only the typical middle-aged Japanese office worker, but also a different customer profile. Today young women are increasingly into enjoying premium sake. The standing bars which specialize in jizake (small local craft sake producers), or wine are attracting younger customers. Young men and women are now discovering the benefits of standing bars. It’s a combination of quality and value. The standing bar business model is based on volume, and the prices generally reflect an easiness on the wallet without sacrificing quality.
One company has taken the standing bar concept to a new level. The Oreno restaurant group has created a concept of western cuisine, primarily French and Italian. The business owner decided to recruit the most talented chef’s from some of the best rated restaurants. Many of these chefs have culinary training in Europe and work at some of the most exclusive restaurants and hotels. The Oreno group was able to attract this group of talent by offering higher salaries and the freedom to operate their menus without compromising with cost. The result is a fine dining menu experience served in a standing environment. The company started in the Ginza and Shimbashi area which is the heart of standing bars in Tokyo. The restaurants became wildly popular. Today the group has expanded considerably in Japan as well as overseas. For this particular concept to work, customer turnover is the key. At a luxury sit down restaurant with this type of menu, guests tend to linger and for up to two hours at times. The standing bar is not conducive to long stays and a limited seating time is conditional of their policy. The result is exceptional culinary food and menu at a fraction of the cost at the luxury restaurant.
The standing bar is unique to the Japanese culture. It continues to evolve and it s a fun and economical way to sample food and sake.