This traveling restaurant will make you want to pack your bag and cook out of a shipping container.
May 14, 2019
The idea of a traveling restaurant is cool. Before starting Boxman Studios, our own CEO even ideated around a seasonal oyster bar that would move between Charleston and the Florida Keys. But starting a new business is scary, especially when it’s around a totally new idea, in an industry where your location and brand awareness are drivers of success. How can an entrepreneur be successful under these conditions?
This month, an innovative traveling restaurant concept has begun their world tour in Charlotte. Thanks to some digital snooping, we found some of their numbers, which we believe can be a use case to understand how traveling restaurants may provide a great experience for clients, fill their seats, and turn a profit. We want to preface this by saying, we didn’t attend the experience but we’re fans. We don’t have firsthand experience with their concept but this was too cool to ignore!
What is the Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen?
It’s a mobile dining experience that ties together a chef-driven menu, a traditional Tokyo ramen shop atmosphere, and immersive storytelling. Oh, and their high-end food and drink glows in the dark. Housed in a modified shipping container, the ramen shop only seats 6 people at a time, but they command a heavy price tag, at $100.00 per person for the all-inclusive 30 minute experience.
Nakamura.ke is an exclusive experience, and they lean in on that. They’re only in town for 9 days. Each day has 7 services for 6 guests at $100 per person.
That’s a total of 378 tickets- $37,800.00… for nine days!
How can they sell these tickets? This is no ordinary restaurant!
Nakamura.ke Sold out of their tickets in less than a day because:
The brand. When you scroll down their Instagram page, you’ll be met with bright neon colors sharply contrasted against deep black backgrounds, glowing bowls of ramen, and surreal, graphic images that would be disturbing if they weren’t so artfully composed. From their striking photography to their glow-in-the-dark noodles, everything about Nakamura.ke’s brand is visually interesting and communicates that you’ve never had an experience like this before.
The environment. We didn’t build Nakamua.ke, but we know a little something about transforming shipping containers into restaurants. One of our greatest challenges is finding ways to fit the kitchen equipment and stations in such a small space. It gets cramped. For that reason, we rarely place a dining area in the same container as the kitchen. In this case, it works. The creators of Nakamura.ke wanted to replicate the feeling of being in a traditional ramen shop in the heart of Tokyo. These small spaces put strangers close together in an intimate setting. It breaks down barriers and fosters a sense of community. These strangers are experiencing this journey for the first time, together.
The food. The five-item menu (3 dishes and 2 cocktails) was developed by London’s Bompas & Parr. The dishes are constructed with natural ingredients and are prepared onsite by 8arm. Every item is prepared to incorporate the sense-heightening lumen aspect. The secret behind the glowing cuisine is still a mystery which only intensifies the experience’s novelty. But overall, the high-quality dishes aren’t only meant to fill your belly. They’re intentionally designed to activate your senses in an unconventional way.
The storytelling. The story of the Nakamura.ke family ties the entire experience together. They tell the traditional Japanese fable of a family-run ramen shop, known by the spirits for their special recipe. It’s a story of family, pride, and the secret sauce that makes you special- a relatable story with universal themes. The tale feels deeply personal to the restaurant’s creator, gives the diners an opportunity to experience vulnerability, and allow themselves an escape- if only for 30 minutes- from the mundane.
Everything about this dining experience speaks to us. The bright colors, the interesting design, the intriguing story, and most of all, the glowing cuisine. It won’t be easy to create a mobile restaurant that can drum up this much excitement, but this team of creators made it happen with style! Giving credit where credit is due, here are the masterminds behind Nakamura.ke:
Dashboard: Nakamura.ke Founder, Managing Partner
Zoo as Zoo: Nakamura.ke Founder, Chief Creative
Bompas & Parr: Nakamura.ke Lumen Menu Developer
8 arm: Chef/Owner, Nhan Le, Nakamura.ke Executive Chef with Skip Engelbrecht & Duane Kulers
NinePound: Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen Fabricator
Frank Nitty: Designer / Animator
the Sound Table: DJ/Owner, Karl Injex Nakamura.ke Night Parades Sound Curator (Atlanta)
Taria Camerino: Chef / House Spirits Desserts @ Enchanted Zashiki (Atlanta)
Huge Inc: Tech partner – Nakamura.ke Night Parades (Atlanta)