The reputation of Japanese customer service speaks for itself, but among the various businesses in the country certain establishments stand out even more for making patrons feel at home. Recently, President Magazine conducted a survey of over 1,000 men and women to find out which eating and drinking establishments made this grade.

Restaurants are often ranked in terms of delicious food, variety, and value, but this time we’re going to see which eateries people feel most comfortable going into and which ones have all the charm and ambiance of a prison chow hall.

This survey encompassed all types of eating and drinking establishments in Japan from coffee shops to fast food restaurants to izakaya (bar style restaurants). Respondents who came from all over the country were asked to say if a list of popular restaurants simply had good or bad “hospitality power.” The top restaurants were chosen as having the most “good” votes versus the least “bad votes.”

Here are the top ten:

St Marc Café
8 Votes Good / 5 Votes Bad

This Okayama-based coffee chain with a French sounding name rounds out the top ten with a mildly positive rating. I would comment but I’ve actually never gone to one of these places. Perhaps these shops are so quaintly welcoming and unassuming that I just walk past them without noticing. Then again my lack of observation can be downright legendary sometimes.

Coco Ichibanya
15 Good / 7 Bad

One time while I was eating at this curry restaurant an obscure gangsta rap song came over the store’s radio. Unbeknownst to the largely Japanese speaking staff and customers there it laid out some of the most explicit sexual rhymes I ever heard with the rapper only holding back occasionally by referring to his euphemistic “pimp stick.”

Good times.

10 Good / 4 Bad

Well, this is confusing but the family restaurant Coco’s with its wider selection of foods edged out Coco Ichiban in hospitality. However, we can probably also assume some of the 1,000 people got mixed up between the two. It happens sometimes.

Komeda Kohiten
13 Good / 5 Bad

It’s no surprise that coffee shops like Komeda make a good showing on this ranking, their emphasis on ambiance would certainly help the overall hospitality of the place. But as we’ll also soon see, Komeda Kohiten may have been hurt by their usage of the less common kanji characters for “coffee” (珈琲).

14 Good / 5 Bad

I have to admit that this yakiniku (barbequed meat) restaurant always looked inviting from the outside. I’ve never gone in though as the concept of paying a restaurant only to have to cook the food myself just seems fundamentally wrong to me. That aside, it’s apparently very cozy with a nice staff.

11 Good / 3 Bad

This Japanese restaurant gets the dubious distinction of being the highest ranking “kanji named” restaurant of the bunch. Overall, in the survey it was discovered that restaurants using Japanese or Chinese oriented names seemed to fare much more poorly in hospitality power than those with western style names. This should give you some idea of what’s in store.

22 Good / 5 Bad

Hey! Stop laughing.

While those familiar with the American version of Denny might find this fourth place ranking absurd there certainly appears to be a huge difference in the chain on each side of the Pacific. That, or some Japanese people are simply too enamored by the exotic Americanness of it to see any faults.

Royal Host
29 Good / 5 Bad

I once ordered a plate of tacos at Royal Host and they were served up ice cold. Still, I’ve gone back since. I suppose that says a lot about the hospitality of one of Japan’s leading chains.

Mos Burger
36 Good / 4 Bad

They may be a little more expensive and a little slower than other fast food burger joints, but there is definitely something inviting about Mos Burger.

60 Good / 4 Bad

I’m not a fan personally but I have to admit that Starbucks stands as perhaps the shining example of hospitality power. How else can they sell decent tasting coffee for extremely high prices while making up their own language for ordering? If I were to open a restaurant and change the name for medium to “vstřikování” and make you pay 100 percent more than the place next door, I’m sure each and every one of my customers would tell me where I could shove my “zboží.” And yet Starbucks not only made it work, they’re considered the most welcoming chain in Japan!

Analysts suggested that name power had a lot to do with the hospitality power of a restaurant. It appears that chains with western style names seemed more inviting to customers than those with more Asian ones, especially towards female customers. Interestingly McDonald’s (14th) proved to be the most polarizing of the group earning a whopping 93 “Good” votes and 104 “Bad” votes surpassing both the best and worst restaurants in total votes either way. The bottom of the list was mostly comprised of gyudon restaurants with Yoshinoya coming out on top (17th: 26 Good / 37 Bad). This style of restaurant is fiercely competitive and caters to their no-nonsense customer base of hungry workers. Despite that, gyudon chain Sukiya was at the bottom with 8 “Good” votes and 89 “Bad” votes.

That being said, I’d still choose Sukiya over Starbucks any day of the week. The hospitality of any business is really a subjective thing and shouldn’t sway your choice when looking for somewhere to dine or hang out. However, if you’re looking to start a restaurant of your own, these numbers are very well worth considering.

Source: President via Niconico News (Japanese)
Images: Wikipedia – Kirakirameister, Kici, Kirakirameister, MJ-bird, Kici, ITA-ATU, Tokoroten, MASA