REION Report
 Vol.2 – Chiushi Chaya

REION Report number 2 is about the restaurant "Chiushi Chaya" which was opened in May, 2017 in Yaho, Kunitachi City. The store whose building has been renovated from an old farm house is already famous for dishes which use large volumes of local vegetables and many customers visit it every day. We interviewed Mr. Hisashi Endo, the owner of the restaurant, in the brand new house and asked where the REION is located and how is it being used.

Restaurant offering the taste of local vegetables was started by a farm household with a history of nine generations

A farm household renovated an old farm house and in May, 2017, opened "Chiushi Chaya" in Yaho, Kunitachi City, Tokyo, where farming has benefitted from the rich natural resources since olden times. Mr. Hisashi Endo, the owner, told us, " In the past, this area had many farm households breeding dairy cows. Hence the village name "Chi Ushi" (meaning 1000 cows). Including us, there are many farm households still here today." The Endo family have been working the soil here for generations and Hisashi is the ninth head of the family. The reason he wanted to renovate the old house where he was born and make it into a restaurant is "I wanted to revitalize the local town." Chiushi Chaya is mainly run by the Endo family brothers.
The chef is Katsunori, the third son of the family, who worked as the master chef in the Sakuragaoka Country Club restaurant in Tama City after working for "SAVINI," a well-established Italian restaurant near Tachikawa Station. With his long and enduring career of more than 30 years, he creates exquisite Italian dishes from the local vegetables. The kitchen also has a stone oven, with which he bakes pizza using his strong power, which attracts the customers.
Most of the vegetables used in this restaurant are locally made. Mr. Endo, in addition to the vegetables grown on his own farm, also uses those purchased from his childhood friends every day.
"Any vegetables which are crooked and cannot be sold in the market still have an excellent taste, and they are fresh and tasty above all. I want to energize the local farm households and also share the attractions of Kunitachi City local vegetables to as many customers as possible."

While retaining the taste of an old folk house,
the interior of the house was renovated to
make it a more comfortable place.

Before starting the restaurant, Mr. Endo visited several cafes and restaurants which were renovated from old folk houses. "There were many restaurants where you needed to take off your shoes, and I felt that they lacked a casual feeling." Then he developed ideas together with an architect for more than half a year, and went into the renovation taking the best things of both the old and the new. While you can enter with your shoes on and you can see the modern interior, there are still old beams and pillars with a strong aura which makes you feel somewhat nostalgic.
Intentionally retaining the garden which faces the street, terrace seats just like the "Engawa" of Japanese houses are provided. At the rear of the store, a traditional storehouse and even a small shrine still remain. The old storehouse, he hopes, will be utilized as a party room in the future.
As Mr. Endo says, "I wanted to create a space full of openness, and I asked to make the ceiling high and the windows as wide as possible," the view from the house is very wide and you are not aware of any boundary between the house and the garden. The house is also full of natural light even on a cloudy day. In this environment, REION is installed on the kitchen counter visible from the guest seats. There is no oppressive feeling or feeling of strangeness, and the mat white body smoothly matches the light interior space.

Pursuing comfortable services, trial and error everyday

In Chiushi Chaya, wet towels of "Petit chocolat," a brown-like color, which is similar to the shop's business cards, the staff aprons and the interior atmosphere are being used.
"Since we serve many finger foods, such as cheese and pizza, I wanted to serve wet towels that can securely wipe the hands" said Mr. Endo. Though they are using REION in Cool/COLD mode now, they plan to use Warm/LOW and Warm/HIGH mode as well, as the weather changes.
Generally, to serve wet towels in restaurants is a matter of course. But, they say, it isn't so easy. "Initially some young female staff removed the plastic bag a little and served the towel very gently. But it would be too much if a senior member of staff like me did the same thing, wouldn't it? Maintaining a moderate stance is not easy."
As Mr. Endo says, how these services are perceived varies from people to people. The manner of serving wet towels alone can be difficult.
"Currently the wet towels are served in the plastic bag as is. However, in the terrace seats, since the plastic bag can be blown by the wind after the towel is removed, the wet towels there are served after being removed from the bag."

Aiming for a relaxed space just like visiting your relative's house

To tell the truth, the backyard of Chiushi Chaya is near the location where our first FSX factory used to be located. It feels like a coincidence that REION has been adopted at a new restaurant in such location.
The store is closely tied to the local community and many customers from nearby towns used to visit after it opened. But then, after it became widely known through online news, the number of inquiries increased. More customers are now coming from faraway places, and the parking capacity of 10 cars is often fully used. In such a store, the REIONs are all purchased rather than rented.
"Although we initially rented 250 wet towels a week, it proved to be too little, and we now rent 400 a week. Thanks to your service, so many guests are coming now."
In the end, we asked what kind of restaurant he wanted to create, he answered with a smile, "I want it to be a store where anyone can feel friendly. I want the guests to feel like they are visiting their relative's house, and enjoy lots of good vegetables in a relaxed atmosphere."