Kitchen equipment piling up as pandemic shuts down restaurants in Japan

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – A truck loaded with kitchen sinks, cutlery, pots and pans arrives at a warehouse in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, and workers begin unloading goods taken from closed restaurants – victims of the COVID-19 -slump-driven pandemic.

The facility, managed by used kitchen equipment supplier Tenpos Busters, is so full that a sink has to be left outside. “We are buying more items, so our service centers across the country are running at full capacity to clean and repair them,” Takahito Tooyama, sales division manager at Tenpos Busters, told Reuters.

The amount of equipment the company purchased from restaurants has doubled from the previous year, Tooyama said. Former ramen noodle shop owner Yashiro Haga is one of those who sold his kitchen items to the company.

Five days after closing its 15-year-old ramen shop, Shirohachi, in a Tokyo business district, the company has recovered its chairs, pots and bowls of ramen.

“Now that my things are gone and the store is empty, it makes me sad,” Haga said darkly, standing in her kitchen and looking at the empty dining room counter.

Haga earned around 16,000 yen ($ 165) selling her kitchen items, which will be cleaned at a service center before being resold.

About 800 Japanese companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic went bankrupt from February to mid-December, according to credit research firm Teikoku Databank.

Restaurants and bars were the hardest hit, with 126 businesses going bankrupt.

The pain for the restaurant industry will continue as long as social distancing measures remain in place, business analyst Shogo Maruyama said, suggesting that owners of restaurants in central Tokyo should consider opening. outlets in suburban areas.

Reporting by Akira Tomoshige, Hideto Sakai and Akiko Okamoto; Editing by Karishma Singh

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