Asia has a grow­ing taste for ken­taro ogawa’s sim­ple meal of beef and rice.

Forbes - - CONTENTS -

Ken­taro Ogawa has turned a sim­ple $3 beef-and-rice meal into an in­ter­na­tional em­pire of eater­ies—and a ten-fig­ure for­tune.

THE RISE OF Ken­taro Ogawa is a story of the tra­di­tional tri­umph­ing over the mod­ern, the beef bowl beat­ing out the fast­food ham­burger. His Sukiya chain of 24-hour lunch-counter restau­rants spe­cial­izes in the speedy ser­vice of gyudon, Ja­pan’s clas­sic beef-and-rice bowl, at just $3 a pop. Sukiya’s par­ent com­pany, Zen­sho, which in­cludes sev­eral other, smaller restau­rant brands, pulls in some $4.7 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enue, largely in Ja­pan, more than what Mcdon­ald’s earns there.

Ogawa has re­cently pushed Zen­sho beyond his home coun­try. It now op­er­ates 2,000 Sukiya restau­rants, mostly in Asia; it opened 34 in the past year in China, Tai­wan and as far afield as Brazil. That ex­pan­sive ap­petite has helped Zen­sho stock in­crease 30% dur­ing the last 12 months. Ogawa, a for­mer ship­yard worker who founded Zen­sho in 1982, still owns 40% of it, and his stake plus ac­crued div­i­dends adds up to a $1 bil­lion for­tune.

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