June 07, 16 | Chiaki Uzurahashi
WONDER CREW president Tomonori Watanabe challenges to be the no.1 food company from Sapporo
Make people who interact with happy. WONDER CREW has various style restaurants with high aspirations and venture spirits. Tomonori Watanabe is the president who leads the firm. He pushes his will towards the food industry in Japan itself as well.
“Irasshaimase” as a “Thank you”Tomonori was working for a men’s clothing sales company previously. When Tomonori read a book about a famous entrepreneur, he was really touched by the way of thinking and started to aspire to start a business himself.
He was grown up in an Okonomiyaki restaurant, which was run by his parents, and was helping the restaurants since he was a little child. When he was alone in the restaurant, the word “Irasshaimase” popped out from his mouth. (“Irasshaimase” is a Japanese word for welcoming someone into a restaurant) “I think I was purely happy when the customer came into our restaurant”. When he think back about that, it was “Irasshaimase” as a “thank you” to the customer.
He experienced a part-time job at a restaurant when he was a student. He realizes that he could not say “Irasshaimase” with the emotion of gratitude. When he thought about starting a business, he chose the food industry because of his experience, he wanted to become a person to say good “Irasshaimase”.
▲The president of WONDER CREW Tomonori Watanabe. Tomonori was born in Sapporo in 1982. He graduated Hokkaido Asai Gakuen University (Now Hokusho University). After graduated the school, he started working for a men’s clothing sales company. After three and half years, he switched his career to the food industry. Opened “Veggy’s House” in Chuo-ku Sapporo in 2011 when he was 27. Founded WONDER CREW in 2011.
Expanding restaurants ambitiously, using the strength of “design”Italian style bar using Hokkaido vegetables called “Veggy’s House” was founded in 2010. Since then, he has expanded new restaurants which use Hokkaido ingredients in reasonable prices. Now WONDER CREW has 16 restaurants mainly in Sapporo with different brands, such as oyster bar “FISHMANS”, “Hokkaido Italian Izakaya EZOBARU BANG!BANG!” and “Taishu Niku Sakaba Gatsuri”.
▲EZO BARU BANG!BANG! provides Italian food with Hokkaido ingredients at a reasonable price. The picture is EZO BARU BANG!BANG Sapporo Odori. (Photo provided by WONDER CREW)
One of the strengths of WONDER CREW is that they do the creative works such as the web and interior design on their own. “To make the restaurant attractive and to be distinct comparing to other restaurants, design is necessary. The food industry will be a battle of creative so we will work on creative as if we are designing the eating situation itself.”
The design production operated by WONDER CREW called “STUDIO WONDER” involves art director and graphic designer Sou Nomura, one of the directors of WONDER CREW mainly. The promotion tools of WONDER CREW’s restaurant “Sanchi Chokuso Odoroki Kaisen Izakaya Uotto”, which was one of the works of Nomura, won the second prize award in “Sapporo ADC Competition & Award 2015”.
Make people who shine with happiness in the food industryThere are 40 members of WONDER CREW and the average age is 26. Including part-time workers, members are more than 150 people. Tomonori remains firm with the belief “people is everything”. He says “company must be a place where people can grow up. Our company is young and there are many young people so I put emphasis on educating humanity”.
To keep members’ motivation high and make members who work together turn to the same good direction, Tomonori hosts “Nomiken” once in three months, closing all the restaurants. This is a training with different themes each time, and after the training, they eat and drink and interact with people including clients.
“My principle is to make 4 people happy: customers, employees, employees of clients, and residents of the area where our restaurants are”.
To open a restaurant is to involve to town development. “I want to participate in revitalizing the town or the area through our restaurants and business”.
▲“Lobster mayonnaise”, one of the most popular dishes in EZO BARU BANG!BANG! (Photo provided by WONDER CREW)
Tomonori is very serious to change the food industry. To make the industry more attractive, and give more chances for new challenges to people in the industry.
“The job in the food industry is so much fun because it is a job to make customers happy. Speaking of management, the fun part is that the numbers change when location, business category, and customer needs matched. There are members who want to start a business in future. Life is one time so I want our members to challenge and I would love to back up them.”
Tomonori also wants to establish a cooking school. “There are many people who get a job but give up when they are in training because they cannot do what they want. It is a pity. Can’t we make young people become independent cooks earlier? I believe if I keep saying this, someone who will cooperate shows up so I will keep saying.”
To his destinationTomonori started the franchise of EZO BAR BANG!BANG! last year, and two restaurants in Takamatsu (Kagawa prefecture) and Matsumoto (Nagano prefecture) opened outside of Hokkaido. There are more and more restaurants planned to open spreading all areas in Japan.
Tomonori has 3 goals to achieve by 2020; make the company listed, increase the number of restaurants to 70 including franchise, and make 10 entrepreneurs. “We will become a leading company in the food industry and become the no.1 food company in Japan”. Tomonori puts passion to his words.
▲The picture taken with staffs at the 5th-anniversary party for Veggy’s House. (Photo provided by WONDER CREW)
Tomonori, who keeps challenging, has a strong feeling;
“When I was a student, I could not do well in studying or working. A person like me can start a business and can enjoy working with people who are related and members in the same generation. I want young generations to feel something from me.”
Tomonori keeps going with his staffs, seizes chances, and never stops to challenge.
Related Links- WONDER CREW
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Chiaki Uzurahashi
Photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer Minako Takada