Times are tough for the food industry in Japan. In 2009, Japan's restaurant revenue fell to twenty percent below its peak. But the Kura sushi chain is suddenly changing all of that, turning record profits. Except, something's amiss with this franchise: "Absent [at Kura] are the traditional sushi chefs and their painstaking attention to detail. In their place are sushi-making robots and an emphasis on efficiency. Absent, too, are waiters. They have been replaced by conveyor belts that carry sushi to diners ... [who] are asked to slide finished plates into a tableside bay, where they are automatically counted to calculate the bill, doused in cleaning fluid and flushed back to the kitchen on a stream of water." And now we know the secret to financial success in a punishing economy: Cut all human people out of the equation. [NYT]
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