• By The Financial District

Taxi Company Opens Sapporo Bar With Japanese Cabbies As Waiters

Tucked into a century-old red brick warehouse in a residential area here is a cozy little bar, a fire crackling in the fireplace as soft music wafts through the space.

Photo Insert: Taxi drivers with experience in the restaurant industry man the bar and mix drinks at Hiragishi Hire.

And behind the bar, mixing drinks, are taxi drivers with experience in the restaurant industry. So how was it that Hiragishi Hire, a taxi firm based in Sapporo's Toyohira Ward, came to be running a bar?

The firm was approached by the owner of the brick building that stands across from the company and took ownership of it about two years ago. It is thought to have been built over 100 years ago, during the Taisho era (1912-1926), and used as apple storage for three decades before being left empty for the next seven.

Hiragishi Hire took around a year to install water pipes and remove the plaster from the inside walls, revealing the red brick beneath, Mainichi Shimbun reported.

The two-story, nostalgic bar has 30 square meters of floor space on the first and 20 square meters on the second. Until now, Hiragishi Hire had rented out the space, used it as a beer garden, and as a one-day pop-up restaurant that used only ingredients from the Hokkaido town of Rausu.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

"The taxi industry is a treasure trove of people with various skills," Kumashiro said.

"That's because many drivers have had a variety of jobs before they became taxi drivers. It's their second or third career." He gave two drivers with restaurant industry experience work as bartenders before or after their driving shifts.

Entrepreneurship: Business woman smiling, working and reading from mobile phone In front of laptop in the financial district.

Koji Nakai, 60, who was in the restaurant business for 36 years in Sapporo's Susukino entertainment district before becoming a taxi driver five years ago, recalled that he was "happy" that he was asked to become one of the bartenders. He said: "Doing a job that I've done for years feels very comfortable."

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