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  • Writer's picturegordonjcampbell

Covid-19 separates the winners and the losers in Japan's Ramen Industry

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Businesses of all descriptions are suffering in Japan, and it’s been disturbing to witness an industry as dependable and appreciated as the ramen shops decline.

The Covid-19 disruption has erased several established ramen houses from the streets of Japan.

The combination of enticing aromas, delicious broth, and noodles timed perfectly for delivery into your bowl is the motivation for representatives from multiple demographics to line up for as long as an hour for a place to sit and slurp down a delicious meal.

In recent times, the pleasure of devouring noodles at one's favorite shop while surrounded by fellow lovers of the cuisine hasn’t been enough.

We’re witnessing the demise of numerous ramen shops, including established stores. Noodle restaurants with good reputations and convenient locations are sliding off the grid.

The fear of the disease has over-ridden the desire for the pleasures of enjoying the steamy treat.

The concern for personal safety is reasonable as tight seating arrangements and crowded sidewalks where patrons lineup make for a high-risk environment during this pandemic.

Chain restaurants and popular independents have closed their shops, leaving aching holes in their communities.

Two notable exceptions have combined ingenuity, hard work, and some courage to allow not only survival but impressive year on year sales increases.

Ramen chain Machida Shoten focused on delivering their product and partnered with food delivery companies such as Uber Eats. They invested in packaging to allow the broth to remain warm until it reached the customer and developed noodle preparation methods to assure their clientele a fulfilling ramen experience.

The Machida Shoten shops are an example of a business attuned to their customer's evolving dining requirements with a readiness to pivot and adjust as necessary to meet expectations.

The ramen chain Maruchiyo Yamaokaya found success by extending their hours and providing ramen 24-hours a day throughout the week. The contrarians increased their exposure while most restaurants were cutting hours and scaling back services.

The move allowed Maruchiyo Yamaokaya to scoop up new customers as truck drivers unable to find places to enjoy a hot meal made their way to their ramen shops.

The large parking lots associated with the Maruchiyo Yamaokaya ramen chain made their noodle shops an attractive and convenient destination.

The hungry women and men coming off the highway for a break in front of an inspiring bowl full of ramen leave their work and worries behind. You can bet the experience will become a habit and the truck drivers will be enjoying Maruchiyo Yamaokaya ramen long after Covid-19 becomes a distant memory.


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