Founding A Bar & Restaurant Business In Fukuoka - Focus On Fukuoka #2 [Market Brew]
Why is Fukuoka a great place to open a bar and what does it take to win over the locals?
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Happy Thursday Market Brewsters. Today we’re continuing from where we left off last week and exploring the exciting food and beverage opportunities in Fukuoka.
Fukuoka is well known for having an energizing and lively nightlife. We spoke to Luis Matos, a food and beverage hospitality professional who manages a portfolio of local bars and restaurants which he founded himself. Luis tells us:
All about Fukuoka’s buzzing bar scene,
What we can learn from Costco about winning over Japanese consumers, and
Why Fukuoka is a great place to grow as a business.
Fukuoka’s Energetic Bar Scene
Luis Matos set up shop in Fukuoka 30 years ago. His American bar, Off-Broadway opened in the heart of the city which also happens to be minutes away from the bay. At the time, Fukuoka was thriving, high on the energy of bubble-era Japan. A growing foreign community, residents with experience living abroad, and an affluent population in search of new experiences meant Fukuoka was crying out for international bars and restaurants.
Even after the bubble burst, Fukuoka has continued to thrive. Luis now owns a portfolio of bars in the city. He credits his success to Fukuoka’s openness.
Fukuoka’s people are the same. Laid-back and open - unafraid of being challenged by new things, they are happy to change. This makes the city a great place to experiment and get willing feedback on new ideas.
But is Fukuoka’s penchant for a night out enough to make your bar or restaurant venture an instant success?
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A lot of opportunities or not, adapting your products to the Japanese context is still key
In Luis’ experience, it’s context as much as the product that is key to convincing Japanese consumers to eat and drink something new.
Luis points to Costco as a big name that started out in Fukuoka and got its strategy just right.
Costco tested the Japanese market by opening its first branch near Fukuoka in 1999. One and half years later they opened their next outlet in Chiba. Their focus on engaging consumers in a Japanese context is one of the reasons they succeeded, says Luis.
The consumer base in Fukuoka may be open to new things, but you still need to know the ins and outs of marketing your product in Japan to be successful here, like anywhere else in the country. Fukuoka, then, is a great city to learn the ropes of the Japanese market. All without the price tag of Japan’s bigger cities.
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Fukuoka is THE place to grow
Luis explains that the fruitful opportunities in food and beverage in Fukuoka are aided by Kyushu’s abundant natural resources.
As well as cultivating ingredients, Fukuoka also makes a fine place to cultivate the growth of your business. Especially internationally.
Speaking to Luis makes it clear that Fukuoka is a supportive environment to figure out the Japanese market. It has open-minded consumers, plenty of resources and low costs. But the city is also a springboard to expand further, domestically - like Costco did, and internationally.
Our final question to Luis. Would he consider taking Off-Broadway abroad?
That’s all folks
We hope you enjoyed reading today’s article and hearing the voice of our local restaurant and hospitality expert. A huge thank you to Luis Matos for taking the time to interview us and support this article.
To find out more about taking your business overseas from Fukuoka, we spoke to a local health food company. Discover their invigorating insights in next week’s article!
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