Side-street restaurants in Japan

Japanese bars and restaurants are offering all-you-can-eat subscription services to entice customers and build brand loyalty. The subscription services work to make the customer feel like they are saving money, while also discouraging them from spending money elsewhere.

The plans vary from unlimited coffee and beer for a month for 3,000 yen (NZD $40) for a month up to an all-you-can-eat steak deal for 70,000 yen (NZD $930) per month.

“I feel the more frequently I visit here the more money I can save,” said one customer, who had a 3,000-yen 30-day all-you-can-drink card. “I do not need to pay charges for drinks, so I inadvertently order expensive meals.” He estimated that he had eaten at the restaurant six times in the monthly period.

Restaurant chain operator Andmowa Co. introduced a fixed alcohol offer at its 33 outlets in Tokyo in March, and sales and customer loyalty has increased. The company said that almost 300 cards, ranging from 3,000 to 13,000 yen, had been sold in the first month.

All-you-can-eat deals do have the potential to backfire, as evidenced by a restaurant in China earlier this year which was forced to close after it failed to properly regulate a similar offer, going bankrupt after two weeks.