When Ichiro Oh opened the first Lucky Pierrot restaurant in Hakodate, Hokkaido, in 1987, getting customers in and out quickly was the operating model of chain restaurants across the country. Behemoths like McDonald’s and Mos Burger emphasized speed over experience.

Oh avoided that churn with his own burger shop.

“I wanted the customers to enjoy our story, not just eat and leave,” the 80-year-old founder and current chairman of Lucky Pierrot tells The Japan Times over video chat from his Hakodate office. “I treated it like entertainment.”