China Garden (Iwaen) was established as a typical Chinese restaurant around the country between 1940 - 1955. This expansion coincided with Japan’s rapid economic growth mainly in department stores from Hakata to Sapporo with 48 restaurants at its peak. In the 1940’s Chinese restaurant were still rare, mostly in Osaka. Mr. Chen Jian a succesful Chinese chef from Osaka opened his first restaurant successfully in Daimaru’s Tokyo Station store. Chinese Garden is a veteran chain restaurant with a long history.
This venerable chain restaurant was inherited in 2000 by the third generation president Mr. Yasuo Watanabe (52). Almost 10 years after inheriting the restaurant chain he is drastically reducing the number of restaurants. Mr Watanabe jokingly says “Once the company decided to close the restaurants we became very skillful at closing them down, better than anyone else, I’m an expert at it. I can even give lectures on the subject!” However you can imagine the bitterness behind such laughter.
China Garden now comprises of four restaurants, the main one at Tameike (231square meters) , the others are at Kasumigaseki (330 square meters), Fukuoka (561 square meters) and Nagoya (231 square meters). All the restaurants are highly profitable earning approximately 300,000 Yen per square meter a month. Needless to say a very successful Chinese restaurant! The Kasumigaseki restaurant opened on the third floor of a new building in October 2007 was immediately successful and profitability is still climbing. The success comes from experiments at the Tameike Chinese Garden to change business conditions to recreate the business category profitably.