My dad was an absolute savage when I was growing up. When our family would go out to dinner, he had this running gag of handing me the check and telling me to pay. Since I was a little kid and about as broke as I would end up being in college, he would then joke that it was time to "work for your meal" and that I would need to wash dishes for a few hours to make up for it.
While that never actually happened, there's now a restaurant where you can truly work for your meal if you can't afford it. This charitable eatery is called Mirai Shokudo in Tokyo, Japan, and the owner will charge you 50 minutes of labor if you're short on the dough for dinner.
According to NextShark, owner Sekai Kobayashi is the only true employee of the restaurant, with over 500 other "temps" having come in and worked for their food. Upon the completion of a 50-minute shift, they receive a free-meal coupon that they utilize in the restaurant. For everyone else, a typical lunch goes for 900 yen ($8.05 USD).
Kobayashi developed her concept as an "open-source" model where "everyone is welcome and everyone fits in."
"I use this system because I want to connect with hungry people who otherwise couldn’t eat at restaurants because they don’t have money," she told AsiaOne.
Kobayashi's concept is definitely a noteworthy and much-needed one, especially with food insecurity and the ability to afford food becoming tougher for folks in Japan and other countries — including the United States. 1 in every 6 Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from, for example, with that number jumping to 1 in every 5 when it comes to children.
By working at local restaurants to pay off their meals, it could help employers lower labor costs but also help those needing food to more easily obtain it, solving issues at both the owner and customer level.
Could this potentially be a restaurant model that takes off and flourishes in 2018? We'll have to wait and see.