Coco Ichibanya
November 20, 2007 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Help-me-open-a-curry-restaurant-franchise-Filter. There is an incredibly popular Curry House restaurant franchise here in Japan (over 1000), (CoCo Curry Ichibanya) There are also a handful in Hawaii. I want to bring this to the contiguous US. I live in Japan. I have little money, some good connections, I've been writing letters to everyone, have good credit. Can I get small business loans for stuff like this? Anyone out there tried something like this... I would love to hear stories, anyone opened a McDonald's franchise, or tried to move foreign franchise to the US. Thanks everyone.
posted by Benzle to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The advantage of a franchise is that you get to take advantage of a well known service mark. If no one knows this mark in the US you are not likely to succeed unless the franchiser agrees to devote a heavy marketing campaign to promote the mark here. Starting out in an area with a concentration of Japanese immigrants would also help.
posted by caddis at 5:45 AM on November 20, 2007

Can you come to SW Michigan please?? Yum.

growing up someone brought a Hawaiian chain to our city and it was very popular- it just took a lot of adverts and special promotional deals for the college students.

Good luck!
posted by janelikes at 6:01 AM on November 20, 2007

The thing with franchises is that you often have to use all their stuff, from fixtures to equipment to signage (do they have menus and signs in English? Would they be willing to translate it?) and all that. Even ingredients. You can't just go out and buy whatever cheddar cheese/steak/mayonnaise you want -- it'll taste different and the whole point of a franchise is the exact same experience everywhere. That would be an early question to ask -- where will I get my supplies and ingredients from?

There's plenty of franchise info over at for free.
posted by Atom12 at 6:27 AM on November 20, 2007

Have you spoken to the owners of the curry house to ask if they are interested in expanding to the US? If they are, I'd find out what has been stopping them so far, what problems you're likely to encounter, what assistance they offer, etc. If they have their eye on the US market, they may be willing to go the extra mile in helping you get started. As Caddis says, there is value in name recognition and if they're unknown in the US, it might be difficult for them to get a foothold there. you could use that to your advantage.

Opening a franchise is not cheap though so also speak to the owners of individual CoCo Curry Ichibanya franchisees in Japan and ask them about the level of service from the franchise owner.
posted by gfrobe at 6:59 AM on November 20, 2007

The Japanese franchise Beard Papa's (cream puffs) has some locations here in NYC, and their information on opening a franchise might be useful for you.

You might also be able to get some useful information by researching Go Go Curry, which just opened up a franchise in NYC over the summer.
posted by xo at 7:49 AM on November 20, 2007

Just copy everything they do and come up with a different name. Doesn't seem like there would be much name recognition for it in the US, which is one of the major points of a franchise. Then you don't have to pay them a franchise fee.
posted by conifer at 8:11 AM on November 20, 2007

Benzle, would you clarify what attracts you to franchising as opposed to starting your own? Meanwhile, I'm compelled to observe with everyone else that the franchise fee doesn't buy you anything in a market where its brand is unknown.
posted by gum at 9:14 AM on November 20, 2007

Curry House is one of the things I much miss from Honolulu now that I'm in Indiana. You would have at least one customer. Chicken Cutlet with Cheese. Thanks.
posted by minedev at 9:38 AM on November 20, 2007

This probably isn't the greatest time to be opening a foreign franchise in the U.S. Never mind the weak dollar inflating your franchise fee; the U.S. economy is very tenuous. For instance Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell and KFC, posted flat revenues in U.S. markets for the last couple years; all their growth has been international.

Taking on the U.S. fast food market means exposing yourself to entrenched, market-saturating competition that has been optimizing their margins for decades. I would go so far as to say you can't win that fight, no matter how good the curry is. Current contenders, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Red Robin, are diddling along with 20% gross margins and 1-3% operating margins despite the fact that they are starting fresh with no bureaucracy and no need to spend capex on modernization and upgrades; meanwhile Yum, McD, and their spinoff Chipotle are rolling along effortlessly with 25% gross margins and 12% operating margins.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:49 AM on November 20, 2007

A friend of mine was determined to open a CoCo Curry Ichibanya in the US (Hawaii or Los Angeles) - he gave up on the idea when he was told he needed to raise $3 Million in startup costs. This was roughly one year ago.. so the number itself may have changed, but I have a feeling small-business loans won't be cutting it. My friend was devastated when he got the news, hope you aren't as disappointed. Good luck.
posted by s01110011 at 1:38 PM on November 20, 2007

What a great question! I love Matsuya and always thought it would do well in the US. I wish some enterprising young Japanese would get Taco Bell over here though!
posted by m3thod4 at 12:58 AM on November 22, 2007

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