Food & Wine

Record-Breaking Butcher Shop in Japan With a Waiting List of 30 years

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina macellaio lista dattesa 30 anni

Shigeru Nitta's was a brilliant marketing operation, albeit at a loss, aimed at making Kobe beef known (even beyond Japan). They are now relaunching the butcher shop based around the fame of their legendary croquette.

The news

In fine dining, it is a common experience to desperately angle your way onto a waiting list to eat at the world's top restaurants. Click days and even click hours to fill out spots in a matter of minutes. We now find out, thanks to CNN, that something similar, if not worse, can happen in butcher shops, but only if you live in Japan. Of course, we are talking about Asahiya, a family-owned store located in Takasago City, Hyogo Prefecture, famous for Kobe beef, as well as Kobe pork and Tajima chicken.

 Asahiya beef

Plenty of beef has been on the counters since it was founded in 1926. However, it was not until after World War II that the production of frozen beef and potato croquettes began, rising to national glory following their discovery on social media, so the list of buyers waiting to receive them has grown longer and longer, to the recent 30-year record.

"We started selling our products online in 1999," says Shigeru Nitta, who represents the third generation of this butcher lineage. "Back then, we offered the 'extreme croquette' to try." He had already been hand-selecting local beef farms with his father before taking over the store in 1994.

It seemed that customers were hesitant to spend big bucks in an e-commerce shop for the prized meats, so he made a disruptive decision: to relaunch the sales channel by offering the croquettes at the political price of $1.80 each. The meat alone costs $2.70 per unit, so to limit losses, they only make 200 units per week.  "We offered something tasty and affordable to demonstrate the strategic value of our shop, hoping that customers would buy Kobe meat after the croquette." And they did, but their fame flew far.

"We stopped selling in 2016 because the waiting list had reached 14 years. We wanted to stop the orders, but we kept getting calls." Orders thus resumed in 2017 but at the increased price of $3.40, which did not scare off buyers or produce profits as the deficit persists. In fact, the waiting list continued to lengthen, despite production increasing to 200 pieces per day.

It is a very high-quality product, packed with local potatoes and Kobe A5 from three-year-old females, fed in turn with potato scraps fertilized with their own manure. It is sold in boxes of five for $18.4, but before shipping within national borders, it must be verified that the buyers are alive and reside at the same address. Riding on the wave of success at the butcher shop, they opened a second location in Kobe City and other popularly priced meat snacks, although always taking care not to compete with nearby restaurants that buy the meat.

Source: CNN

Find the article here

Photo: @Asahiya

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