NEW BILLIONAIRE: BOWLED OVER
Asia has a growing taste for kentaro ogawa’s simple meal of beef and rice.
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.