Hub the centre of attention in Japan

The most popular chain of English pubs in Japan is about to celebrate the opening of its 52nd outlet - one for every week of the year, according to its chairman.

Despite the recession, new outlets of The Hub have been opening at a steady rate across the country, with the newest addition due to open its doors in the Yoyogi district of Tokyo on June 20th.

And quite apart from the warm welcome and value-for-money food and drinks, regulars really like the fact that they are not Japanese-style "izakaya," or bars, Hub Co. Chairman Kenichi Kaneshika told Relaxnews.

"The idea for an English-style pub came out of a business trip to England by Isao Nakauchi, the late founder of our company, who was immediately impressed by how friendly pubs were and how simply the system operates - you want a drink, go the bar, pay for it and off you go again," Kaneshika said.

"It's simple and effective - but it's also a good way for people to move around and communicate," he said.

The Hub company was first set up in 1980 as part of the Daiei group of companies. The first bar was opened in Kobe's Sannomiya district, although Kaneshika admits the first few efforts to get the internal design correct were a bit hit and miss, primarily because not many of the people behind the project had had the opportunity to actually try a genuine pub in Britain.

With most of their images taken from photos, Kaneshika says they made a few howlers to begin with.

"Nobody really knew much about British pubs so we just made it up," he says. "At one point, we had 10 different types of sherry and not a lot else. That was a pretty strange pub."

The business trundled along until the mid-1990s, expanding to 10 pubs, although it had still to unify its image, concept, services, taste and menu.

"We wanted The Hub to be the sort of everyday place that anyone could stop by for a drink or two after work, or to stay longer if they want an evening out with friends," he said. That included providing a limited array of beers on tap - the choices are Kirin, Hub Ale or Guinness - but all at reasonable prices, as well as a similarly cheap-and-cheerful selection of meals.

In June 1997, the company opened the Ikebukuro outlet as its first unified concept of the Hub brand and they have been opening three or four new pubs every year since.

"Our target customers are in their 20s and 30s and it is split pretty evenly between men and women," Kaneshika says. "They come here because we're different from an izakaya. There you will get a full-service style, but that means you can't really get up from the place you have been assigned, you can't easily talk to other people and you're rather stuck with the people that you arrived with.

The Hub does not also see the chain of Hobgoblin pubs as a direct rival, partly because there are only a handful in the centres of big cities but also because the vast majority of their clients are foreigners and the bars themselves are more of the "Euro-pub" variety, Kaneshika says.

Another thing the company insists on is that its trademark Hub Ale is made with hops that are specially imported from England, Germany or the Czech Republic before the beer is brewed in Niigata.

JR

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?