Japanese Ex-Programmer Opens “Open Source Restaurant” Where Patrons Can Work for Their Food

An unusual restaurant in the Jinbocho district of Tokyo offers meals in exchange for 50 minutes of labor. This unique “open-source” eatery, called Mirai Shokudo, is the brainchild of former engineer Sekai Kobayashi, 33, who wanted to create a place for hungry people who otherwise couldn’t afford to eat out.

There is no permanent staff other than Kobayashi at the restaurant, which seats 12 at a counter. Customers can either pay for their meals or work one of two daily shifts to earn their meal. The lunch shift consists of serving orders, clearing tables, and other such tasks, while the evening shift, which starts after closing, consists mainly of cleaning. The shift can be exchanged for either a free meal or can be “paid forward” in the form of a voucher that is left at the front door for a hungry but broke patron. First-time customers must eat at the restaurant once before working a shift to familiarize themselves with the setting. So far over 500 people have opted to work for their meals.

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