Mr. Kanso

Foodie Friday, and today we have something a little on the weird side.  It’s a chain of “restaurants” (you’ll see why I’m using quotes in a second) in Japan called Mr. Kanso.  The first one opened in Osaka in 2002 and became so successful that it now has 17 other locations across Japan.  This is a pretty good summary of the business:

Mr. Kanso has no menus, only shelves stacked with hundreds of different types of canned food from across the globe. Customers choose from such delicacies as “Todo niku kare” (sealion curry), canned cocktail sausages, French salad, and whale meat (tut tut, Mr. Kanso) – all served cold in a can and gobbled up with plastic cutlery.

That’s right – diners visit Mr. Kanso and select their food from a shelf.  It’s not heated up, just opened.  As best I can determine, these are not the same cans one can find in a market.  All of them have a Mr. Kanso label so I’m assuming the chain has them made to their specifications.  I don’t get it from a consumer perspective although I guess if the contents of the cans are really yummy it makes a bit more sense.  Honestly, Hokkaido bear curry isn’t really my can of tea but apparently it’s the variety that keeps customers coming back for more.  There is, however an interesting business point here.

Think about it.  No cooking means no kitchen and no cooks.  The start-up costs are substantially lower than those of a regular restaurant.  The food doesn’t spoil, at least not in days or weeks.  The food is reasonably priced – drinks run about $5 and the cans cost between $2 and $20 (I’m not sure what that one contains) and the margins must be excellent.  The cutlery gets thrown away so no dishwashers.  In short, it’s a low investment cost, high margin business.  As long as the appeal is there, and it certainly seems to be, this is exactly the sort of model any of us can emulate.

Honestly, if a Mr. Kanso came to my town I’d probably go check it out.  Reasonably-priced food with an amazing selection has some appeal even if the dining experience has less.  The business appeal, however, is first-rate.  Thoughts?

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