November marks five years since Vikas Pradhan sent out his first tweets in broken Japanese describing the hardships of starting a restaurant. In response and a heartwarming show of support, the Twitter community rallied behind Pradhan not only online but in actual paid visits to his Nepalese cuisine restaurant Daisuki Nippon, putting it firmly in the black.

However, in a rather sudden turn of events, Pradhan tweeted that as of 31 October the original Daisuki Nippon had closed down.

Although Daisuki Nippon first opened in October of 2010, it wasn’t until a month later that Pradhan turned to the internet to vent his frustrations on getting a Nepalese restaurant off the ground in Tokyo. He also might have wanted brush up on his Japanese language skills.

▼ “Today also was a hard day. Only one couple came for lunch. I handed out fliers but no one who took them has come to my shop. Oh Vikas, what are you going to do? I’m getting very scared.”

▼ “Now a group of two customers are here. Women in the 30s and 40s but lunch is a no-go.”

▼ “Good morning, I’m handing out fliers because I hope customers will come.”

Pradhan’s tweets used only the phonetic hiragana alphabet, which is considered the most elementary form of written Japanese. Combined with occasional grammar and spelling mistakes that we all make from time to time, his tweets tended to have a child-like quality to them. Raise the stakes even more by throwing in Pradhan’s sincerely expressed emotions of bleak desperation and optimism, and Japanese heartstrings couldn’t have been plucked harder.

Only a few days after the tweets began, customers began trickling into Pradhan’s restaurant. He would thank them publicly on Twitter and his honest gratitude would, in turn, prompt more people to come. The customers continued to walk through Pradhan’s doors and as they did hit tweets went from outpourings of grief to bursts of joy at the support total strangers had shown him.

It got to the point where Pradhan and his small Daisuki Nippon restaurant were known nationwide, and two years later he opened his second shop in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. Unfortunately that restaurant was short-lived and closed down four months later.

The original Daisuki Japan continued to do well, however, and in 2014 Pradhan tried to expand again by setting up Steak & Burger Daisuki Nippon which forgoes the Nepalese twist and offers the titular red meat instead.

As his business grew Vikas Pradhan never forgot the kindness given to him from people in Japan and when the Great Tohoku Earthquake hit in 2011, he managed to raise 100,000 yen (US$1,210 at the time) for the victims. When a similar tragedy struck his homeland in April of 2015, he gathered 250,000 yen (US$2,060) and donated it in the form of cooking supplies to the survivors of the Gorkha Earthquake.

Through all this time, Pradhan continued to tweet in his signature all-hiragana style (a few minor improvements aside), right up until he announced the closing of Daisuki Nippon.

▼ “Summer is hot. Winter is cold. I enjoy autumn the most. Where will I be in the future? Nepal? Japan? Wherever in the world we will see the same sky.
On 31 October Vikas’ Daisuki Nippon in Nakaitabashi closed. I’m sorry.”

The tweet explains little in the way of information as to why it closed. Also, currently Steak & Burger Daisuki Nippon is still in business, presumably with Pradhan at the helm as of this writing. However, given the wistful tone of his tweet its is uncertain for how long.

Hopefully he was just being sentimental over the emotional loss of the original Daisuki Nippon and the steak restaurant is still going strong. Otherwise, it would be a sad end to what could have been an inspiring rags-to-moderate-success-possibly-riches-later-on story and, by all accounts, a genuinely nice guy.

▼ “When I smile I become happy.”

Source: Twitter/@daisuki_vikas, Huffington Post Japan (Japanese)
Top Image: Twitter/@daisuki_vikas