Japan’s struggling izakaya pubs turn to hi-tech solution for Covid-era booze blues

A widespread alcohol sale restriction as part of Covid-19 measures has one of Japan’s largest izakaya – or pub – chains embracing a hi-tech, but low staff solution: robot servers.

Miki Watanabe, the CEO of Watami, is converting 40 per cent of his izakayas into barbecue, or yakiniku, restaurants to curb mounting losses. As Japan prepares to elect a new leader, Watanabe urges the nation’s next prime minister to provide fairer compensation to restaurants hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic.