Gyoza No Ohsho franchise’s bottomless generosity runs on the simple principle that young people need to eat.
Sadahiro Inoue is something of a local celebrity in the Kamigyo Ward of Kyoto City where he runs his franchise of the popular chain Gyoza no Ohsho. His restaurant is especially popular among the students of nearby Kyoto and Doshisha universities because of a sign that hangs next to its front door.
“People without money for food can eat for free until they’re full. However, they have to wash dishes for 30 minutes after the meal. Students over 18 years old only.”
佐天涙子@御坂美琴 (@satensan2828) July 24, 2016
Inoue told website Bengoshi.com in an interview that he doesn’t really care whether they wash dishes or not, its enough if they’re just willing to do it. He also said that his record was eight people in the same day washing dishes, but recently three in a day is considered busy.
His generosity doesn’t end there, as leftovers are often given away to customers on the spot for free. It’s all for no other reason than, as Inoue put it: “of the basic necessities in life, food is the most important… students need to be able to study hard to become proper people.”
That being said, people like this don’t usually fall out of the sky, but are forged by their own personal experiences and Inoue is no exception.
He married at the early age of 20 and had a child soon after. It was hard finding ways to make ends meet, and there had been times when he simply didn’t have enough money to feed himself. It was in one of those dark moments that an older acquaintance invited him to lunch.
It probably didn’t mean much to this person at the time, but for Inoue it was a life-altering experience. “I remember this person’s face and name as if they were my own child,” he said. He recalled being allowed to have his fill of meats and stews and being given the energy he desperately needed to push on.
Eventually, when he was 23, Inoue began working at a Gyoza No Ohsho. From there, he was promoted to manager, working at several branches until he could save up enough to buy his own franchise – the Denachi branch – which he continues to run until this day, at the age of 67.
▼ Gyoza No Ohsho Denachi
All that time he never let go of the memory of that one lunch. However, by the time he achieved everything, it was too late. “That person is no longer in this world,” said Inoue, “so I will never be able to repay them.” Instead, he has chosen to use his business as a way to help the youth of today in the same way that he had once been helped.
“In this world people think everyone ought to take care of their own children. Well, I take care of other people’s children. And I believe that in doing so, that virtue will return to take care of my child someday. Also in doing so, the world just gets a little better.”
Year after year, he continues to help students with free food. Sometimes a former student will return to pay a visit, and sometimes that student who once washed dishes in the back now uses those hands to perform surgeries. Inoue recalls one instance: “This doctor guy says, ‘Sir, if you ever have money problems you can come see me for free.’ But I don’t need thanks like that.”