Equipped with everything you need to get work done and unwind with a glass of wine afterwards.

Where on Earth is the closest place to Heaven? If you were asked that question, what would your answer be? For our reporter Ahiruneko, his answer would be a Saizeriya solo booth, or “Hitori yo no Counter Seki” (“One-person Counter Seat”) as it’s known in Japanese.

As a family restaurant chain, seating at Saizeriya branches is generally designed to accommodate, well, families, so counter seating or seating for one is pretty much unheard of. However, when the pandemic hit Japan, the chain set up solo booths at select branches, including one each at Roppongi and Tachikawa in Tokyo, the latter of which Ahiruneko recently visited and fell in love with.

The Tachikawa Kitaguchi branch has counter seating for only 10 diners, and the first thing that makes them heavenly, according to Ahiruneko, is they’re located by the window.

▼ The next thing they have going for them is that each seat has partitions, offering you a great sense of privacy.

When staff showed Ahiruneko to his seat at the counter, they looked at him apologetically and said, “It’s a little small…” Ahiruneko, however, shook his head and told them they had nothing to worry about because he actually liked the size as it felt cosy and safe, like a snug in a pub for one.

▼ It was just the right size for him, with a lot packed into the space, including…

▼ …his very own electrical outlet!

Not only was he able to get his electricity for free — Wi-Fi was included for nothing as well!

It’s not all that easy to find places that offer free Wi-Fi and power right at your seat in Japan, and in family restaurants it’s virtually unheard of. This brings us to Ahiruneko’s next point of praise for the setup, because instead of having to pay hourly fees or order expensive coffees while you work, like you would at a cafe or teleworking space, you get to enjoy the cheap and affordable prices family restaurants have to offer.

▼ The reasonable prices extend to the wine menu.

Although it was the middle of the day on a weekday, Ahiruneko couldn’t pass up this opportunity to order a carafe of red wine to help him get through the workday. While he would’ve normally felt self-conscious about day drinking in public, the partitions afforded him so much privacy that he didn’t care at all.

As he sipped and worked, he ordered a few side dishes and felt like he was living a life of luxury on a budget.

The private booth-style setup gave him a sense of freedom and relaxation he wouldn’t normally feel at a regular seat out in the open space of the restaurant, and it helped to dull the noise of other diners around him.

▼ Time for another dish and this time, a carafe of white wine.

The multi-tiered contraption in front of him held all the cutlery he needed, as well as paper napkins, and they were all within easy reach.

It was like discovering a secret base, and the vibe was so calm and relaxing that the office worker who took a seat next to Ahiruneko on what seemed to be his lunch break laid his head on the table and took a quick power nap after eating.

So not only are the counter seats great for working, eating and drinking at, they’re great for sleeping at too. The only problem is finding them, as the official website doesn’t list which branches have counter seating, so it’s a bit of an if-you-know-you-know type of thing.

So if you’re a bit further out from the Tachikawa or Roppongi branches, keep an eye out for counter seats at your local branch. If you’re lucky, Heaven on Earth might be closer than you think!

Restaurant information

Saizeriya Tachikawa Kitaguchi store / イゼリヤ 立川北口店
Address: Tokyo-to, Tachikawa-shi, Akebono-cho 2-4-5, OSJ TACHIKAWA Building 5F
東京都立川市曙町2-4-5 OSJ TACHIKAWAビル5F
Open: 10:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
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