Author’s Note: This story was written in 2018. Clearly, a lot has happened since then. I still love the original restaurant, its original vision, and all the chefs and workers who made the dream possible, but as of today (April 2nd, 2021), I can no longer endorse the restaurant. My reasons are personal, and not to do with any employees, but as of now I do not believe the restaurant still holds true to their original vision. However, that vision isn’t dead! Continue to make dreams and share them wherever you go!
Because I Have Dreams
Every bowl of udon I serve is [the] perfect bowl of udon. -Tsuyoshi Nishioka
In a bustling city just north of Boston, there lies a little shop called Yume Ga Arukara. It roughly translates to “Because I have Dreams” (or so I’m told; I’m not very good at Japanese). An unlikely trio toils: a product manager, a software developer, and an udon-making, ramen serving, dream-touting entrepreneur. They work tirelessly, sweat glistening, ensuring that each and every bowl of udon they serve is the perfect bowl.
Noodles boiled to perfection, with just the right balance of chewiness and bounce, made with utmost care. A savory, salty, refreshingly cold broth, with some tingly radish and calming ginger, topped with an oh-so-tangy lemon. Last, but not least, some hot, sweet beef that melts in your mouth. This is the Niku Udon, the signature dish served at Yume Ga Arukara.
But Why Work at a Restaurant?
Why develop software? Why read the Bible? Why run? Why read good books, read bad books, watch good anime, watch bad anime, play video games, go sight seeing, eat junk food, eat good food, why do anything?
Writing code, reading literature, binging on cheap TV, eating junk food, all tailor to different aspects of who I am, satisfying the different cravings of my heart. To work at a restaurant reflects what I love doing, my desire to fulfill the needs of others through one of my favorite pastimes, eating food I love.
A while ago, I had overheard a friend telling others that everyone should at some point work at a restaurant. She believes that everyone can benefit from experiencing what it is like at the other end of the table, to understand what it means to do back breaking work for an entire day at the whims of cooks, servers, diners, hosts, and managers. To feel the brief panic when a giant crowd rushes in, followed by the zen of seating each patron and serving them efficiently and excellently. And at the end of each day, knowing that another day of hard work lies ahead.
I work at a restaurant because I have dreams. I dream of serving others, in such a way that brings delight to every person I meet. I dream of one day opening up my own restaurant so that I could partake in the joy of serving others food that gives nourishment and joy.
But Why a Software Developer at a Restaurant?
I work at an ever-growing, ever-changing company called Toast, Inc. Toast has been my first ever software gig, and I love it. Software development hits almost every single part of what I enjoy doing as a human: challenging myself with every corner case a client could uncover, dealing with thousands upon thousands of requests that hammer our microservices, solving a new problem each day as restaurants demand higher and higher bars of excellence. How do we build a fault tolerant payments API so that no one is ever left in the dark? How do we scale our restaurant configurations, so that anyone can create a customizable menu at the blink of an eye?
What I love about working at Toast is that its success is so closely tied to a restaurant’s success: the more successful our customers, the more we as a company benefit! It’s a win-win situation, and it is one of the things that really has driven me to work hard and strive for excellence in how I work.
But enough about Toast. One of the many reasons why I decided to work at Yume Ga Arukara is because, as a software developer, I seek to understand and sympathize with those whom I write code for. No man is an island, and no code exists in a vacuum; the APIs I write have an impact on others. For me to truly strive for excellence, I must understand the needs of my customer, both in a business sense and as a human. We are not writing code for machines (yet); our consumers are real people using real products!
I dream of writing code that serves our restaurant partners excellently, in all their needs! Furthermore, I dream of writing software that will go beyond the needs of restaurant workers and owners, serving all those who are in need of food and hospitality!
But Why a Christian at a Restaurant?
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
To be a Christian is to be like Christ. We were put on this earth, not to serve ourselves but to serve others.
Part of my calling as a Christian is to bring joy into this world as I serve others and to do unto others as I would do to myself. Working at a restaurant, I feel as if I can understand this aspect of selflessness a little bit more. I am not Randy when I work: I am the one who brings your food with a smile, I am the one who dresses your bowls, I am the one who cleans your dishes. You could just say I’m doing this as a job, but I believe I am doing this because I care for each of my customers; I want to see them smile as they take their first bite, and leave comforted, knowing that they have been cared deeply for.
I do this because I know that I have been served by a God whose grace has gone beyond any smile or bowl of udon. I dream of sharing the joys I have as a Christian to all those whom I serve.
But Why Yume Ga Arukara?
I work at Yume Ga Arukara because I love it.
To be frank, I did not love my first bowl. I was left bewildered and unsure. It was a taste I had never experienced before, yet I knew I needed to try it again. But come my second bowl, I was hooked. As I had described earlier, it was the perfect marriage of sweet and sour, savory and salty, hot and cold, firm and soft.
Now, every single time I eat, I want to share this good news with others, tell them of the joys I have with each and every bite. Every bowl I eat is the perfect bowl of udon, made with utmost care by Tomo and Tsuyoshi-san.
This drive for perfection, and a desire for excellence and professionalism is something I deeply appreciate about Yume Ga Arukara. Ever since I was a young child, my parents had always told me that I did not need to do everything; however, in the things that I chose to do, I should never half-ass anything. When I cleaned up after a guest, when I washed the dishes, when I did my homework, when I helped a neighbor clean his or her yard, I should always give 100% to whatever I had committed to do. I see this ideal being played out every day at Yume Ga Arukara: no expense is spared towards serving the perfect bowl to every customer.
I dream of serving the perfect bowl of udon to each person who walks into Yume Ga Arukara, bringing joy and noodles to all who come. I dream of encouraging others to pursue their dreams, as they share in the joys of our hard labor. I dream of enjoying a refreshing bowl of niku udon every day.