Yume Wo Katare: express your dreams
Yume Wo Katare is a Japanese ramen shop selling authentic hand made Jiro style ramen. From outside, it seems like a regular ramen shop, but there are very unique features about Yume Wo Katare and it operates very efficiently and have very high through cycle time. Their say they are selling more than just ramen. They are selling dreams. Yes, it is very weird, but this concept works very well with the their operations.
Yume Wo Katare is a Japanese ramen shop selling authentic hand made Jiro style ramen. From outside, it seems like a regular ramen shop, but there are very unique features about Yume Wo Katare and it operates very efficiently and have very high through cycle time. Their say they are selling more than just ramen. They are selling dreams. Yes, it is very weird, but this concept works very well with the their operations. To help you understand, I have listed a typical customer experience and operations benefit in chronological order.
- You will get in line in person. They do not let you leave or have a waiting area. You have to physically form a line outside of the door.
- There is only one item (Ramen) in the menu. You can choose between small or large.
- Very similar to Benihana, but more efficient since they only have one menu. You can reduce food waste by not stocking for dishes that may not be ordered.
- They reduce their cooking time by preparing their ingredients ahead of the time. They will pre-cook meat and broth.
- If you are next in line, you will walk up to the cashier to pay first.
- This reduces time of customer asking for check and paying to the check. This process typically takes up good amount of table time. Also, this happens before you are seated so it saves more table time.
- There are only three long tables and you will be sitting next to a stranger.
- This optimizes the capacity of customers they can serve at same time.
- Because of the layout, people will talk less and finish their ramen faster than normal ramen place.
- They make ramen eating process like a competition. They say that this ramen is not just a ramen, it is your dream and when you finish the ramen, your dream will come true. This encourages you to finish your ramen. Also on the wall, there are tips on how to concentrate on eating. It pretty much says no use of cell phone or talking during eating.
- This decreases food waste, and easier to clean.
- Customers will eat faster, decreasing the table time.
- When you are done with your ramen, waiter will come by to take your bowl. If you finish the ramen including the soup, they will shout out “Perfect”. If you finish only the noodles, they will shout out “Good Job”. Also, they will ask you to stand and state your dream (You don’t have to). After stating your dream, you leave the restaurant.
- After stating your dream, it becomes awkward to seat back down since there are people who have already paid and expecting for you to leave. This helps with their cycle/table time.
Yume Wo Katare’s operations is so efficient and it is pretty much telling customers to east fast, finish your food, and leave after you are done in a polite way. Their operations is very well aligned with their business model for selling ramen.
Student comments on Yume Wo Katare: express your dreams
Ramen is my favorite food, so I was super excited to read your post. It also made me really hungry, however.
I feel like Santouka in Harvard Square can really learn a thing or two from them, especially on the wait time. I hate how Santouka puts people in a line and doesn’t require people to be there when their table is ready. They use a text-notification system, and so people leave the restaurant and walk around the area. When their table is ready, it takes them an additional 15 minutes to return, which makes the rest of the people in line wait even longer. When I am told that the wait is going to be an hour, but see three empty tables waiting for patrons to return, I get infuriated.
In terms of the meal experience, it is interesting, however, that they have managed to stay successful without the “social” experience of eating out. In the way you have described the customer experience, there is no opportunity for pre-meal chatting, or post-meal lingering. Do you think that this hinders their value to customers?
But it sounds like they only need to concentrate on the quality of their food, and not so much the social experience. As they only offer one type of ramen, they can focus all their efforts on perfecting the umami of the broth, consistency of the ramen, and juiciness of the pork belly. And because their food is so good, they don’t need to specialize on experience or service the way that mediocre restaurants do. There is nothing in their customer promise that guarantees conversation, and customers don’t care for it either. And I guess the announcement of “dreams” may be the social aspect of the meal—in a way, we reveal something our best friends may not know about!
Awesome post–I just checked out the photos on Yelp! Can we go sometime?
Interesting post, Phillip! I’m not too familiar with ramen, and your article was a great introduction to the cuisine! The process flow of customers through the restaurant is quite unique. I agree with your assessment that this model is reminiscent of the Benihana operating model.
I’m curious about how the restaurant deals with customers in larger groups. The seating methodology seems to fit well for individual customers who don’t necessarily need to sit in groups, which allows for great flexibility. I feel as though the throughput time for customers will decrease substantially with variability in customer group size. The time of day in which Yume Wo Katare serves its customers (lunch vs dinner) may also play a role in this. Lunch customers may be more aligned with the operating model that expedites time through the restaurant.
Your description of the line that forms outside Yume Wo Katare is also reminiscent of the operating model of Georgetown Cupcake in Washington DC. The waiting area prior to ordering is intentionally small, and it serves two purposes: keeping rent costs down and allowing the line that forms outside the store to be a free advertising source.
This operating model will work well as long as customers don’t demand a higher level of service from the restaurant staff. Additionally, the high throughput model is only valuable as long as there is a sufficient supply of customers that are eager to eat at Yume Wo Katare.
Phillip – great post about a company most of us will not be familiar with! I agree that many of their operational choices seem optimized for the company’s operations. However, they do not seem focused on the customer experience – if I knew I would be standing uncomfortably before paying, rushed to finish my food, unable to talk to people or look at my phone, and “state my dream after” (which seems awkward), I may well choose to eat lunch at a different ramen restaurant. I assume their ramen must be delicious to ensure a steady stream of customers, but even that may not be enough.
Therefore, I’m curious:
– Which of these features are “standard” in a normal ramen restaurant?
– For those features not standard, what do you think makes customers want to come back and keep spending money at Yume Wo Katare, versus somewhere more customer-centric?