Order with gusto at Gusto, because whatever you don’t finish is yours to keep.

If we were making a list of the good qualities of our staff here at SoraNews24, we’d probably start with our charming personalities and fresh, clean smell. But you know what wouldn’t make the list? Anything resembling willpower when it comes to our favorite comfort foods.

So it wasn’t at all out of character when our Japanese-language reporter Saya Togashi stopped by her local branch of Gusto, one of Japan’s most popular casual restaurant chains (or “family restaurant,” as they’re called in Japanese) and got herself a full breakfast spread with pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, and a salad. Then, naturally, she added soup, juice, and coffee, and when her eyes drifted back to the menu and wandered over the words “French fries,” they, too, were an instant order.

But what was unusual was how Saya’s meal ended. No, not with any guilt for stuffing herself (we made peace with our gluttonous urges long ago), but with a take-home container for her leftovers.

For diners in other countries, this might not seem like anything out of the ordinary, but packaging up leftovers from eat-in restaurant meals isn’t commonly done in Japan. There are a handful of reasons for this, starting with concerns about leftovers possibly spoiling on the trip home from the restaurant and customers getting food poisoning. Generally modest individual portions in Japan mean fewer leftovers in general, and also the simple fact that most other restaurants don’t offer doggy bogs can make operators hesitant to do so, lest their eateries look less dignified.

But Gusto, like Royal Host, has decided that the real thing we should be concerned about is eliminating food waste, and so it now provides take-home containers for leftovers, free of charge, upon request. Gusto added this service back in the fall, as did two of its sister chains in the Skylark restaurant group, Bamiyan and Johnathon, but we didn’t get to try it out for ourselves until recently.

To request a container, all you have to do is tap a button labelled “I would like the server to bring me a take-home container” (持ち帰り用容器を持ってきてほしい) on the at-table tablet used for ordering.

Customers are asked to perform the actual packaging themselves, to limit the number of people handling the food, but that’s a simple task Saya was happy to take on, since the end result was fewer French fries in the trash and more in her stomach later that night.

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