Story of beacon
Further Challenges Began on an Aoyama Side Street that
Destiny Led Us To In the Pursuit of Fine Quality:
Space, Ingredients and People
A short while after CICADA had opened, and based on the amount of business we were doing there, we were getting offers to open restaurants in various commercial facilities, but we had only considered a road-side venue that would allow us to maintain the image we had built up to that time. As we went along, there came talks about whether we would take on a restaurant in a location that I had previously thought I would like to do business in.
The location was actually that of a restaurant that David Kidd had first worked in when he came to Tokyo in 1993. It was the Lanchan Bar and Grill that he had built up as head chef, and it was the first restaurant to become popular with the support of a primarily non-Japanese clientele. I marveled at the strength of my destiny that we should be talking about this location just when we were considering the need for our next restaurant.
I had thought that rents would be too astronomically high for us to open a restaurant in Aoyama, but this property closer to Shibuya seemed to meet our conditions. Not only was it close to both Omote-sando and Shibuya, it was in an area where there were a lot of offices and fewer restaurants, and it was in a location we thought was favorable since it was just one block off the main street where there was lots of foot traffic yet in a quiet place surrounded by well-founded businesses. I had previously looked at this property and thought it would be a great location to open an adult-oriented restaurant, but it had so many memories for David, that there could be no place more ideal for the opening of a restaurant to follow on after CICADA.
We decided that the restaurant would be a grill where adults who lived in the city could eat in peace. There were already several grill-type restaurants and steakhouses in Tokyo, but the choices seemed to be split between either an unnecessarily expensive variant found in hotels or else an extremely casual variant, whereas the route we were pursuing seemed to be much rarer. The theme we then decided on was that of an urban chop house. The concept of a chop house is not one many Japanese are familiar with, yet it goes back a long way in American dining history, where simple, good ingredients were grilled and served, and that was a concept that we wanted to modernize and urbanize. The ingredients were an important point, but we searched for highest quality items at prices that fit within the scope of private use. David’s strong desire was that we source natural ingredients wherever possible, and we decided not to use high-quality cultured agricultural products where the resources themselves were drying up, or ingredients that were raised at the expense of natural resources.
The starting point for the creation of the space within the restaurant was to do the same as we did for CICADA and to move the entrance. Previously, you had to enter by going around buildings from Aoyama-dori, with the entrance on the Aoyama-dori side, but we started by creating everything anew including the restaurant’s face. One person said that it was like the flow of energy had changed, but we felt that change made things more natural.
We re-did the interior completely without changing the location of the kitchen, and used large expanses of open space and wide glass panels to let in lots of natural light during the day, which would then also create a darker, more adult atmosphere at night. A key point was the lighting, and we relied on the same planner that we had worked with in CICADA. Although the basic style remains the same, we brought about a tension that differs from the casual sense present at T.Y. and CICADA to make it more of an adult restaurant.