If someone were to tell you that their favourite street food stand had gone to the dogs, you’d probably assume that they were a) complaining, and b) not being totally literal. In the case of one bizarre vendor in Japan, however, these two assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth.
In Sapporo City on the island of Hokkaido, Inu no Yakiimoyasan sweet potato stall is one business under extremely unusual management. Instead of the typical grizzled chef who’s been cooking the same dish for half a century, this popular street food stand is manned - or possibly dogged - by the owner’s extremely dedicated Shiba.
Ken-Kun, the business’ industrious canine proprietor, first achieved viral fame back in 2019, when several unsuspecting customers were startled to find themselves paying a dog for their dinner. Following an explosion on Twitter, Ken-Kun and his sweet potato stand have become stalwarts of Sapporo’s street food scene, attracting fans from around the world.
Despite Ken-Kun’s obvious qualities as an employee, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that Inu no Yakiimoyasan doesn’t operate like a traditional food business. With the dog managing the financial side of things, food purchases operate on an honour box system, all under Ken-Kun’s watchful - if, presumably slightly baffled - eye.
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Behind the business’ fluffy facade, there is still the issue of making money. With Ken-Kun managing things upfront, the owner is free to get on with the tricky business of cooking roasted sweet potatoes and picking up the profits at the end of the day. Knowing that he has such a star employee presumably makes it slightly easier to enjoy the rollercoaster ride of being a small business owner.
Of course, with everyone taking such a laissez-faire attitude to profit-making, there is the possibility that some unscrupulous characters may take advantage of the honour system. However, we defy anyone - no matter how shady - to look into Ken-Kun’s face and feel ok about stealing a potato.