Ivan Orkin presented today at the Food On Demand Conference in Chicago.

Joe Veen

When famed ramen chef Ivan Orkin opened a tiny ramen shop in a suburb of Tokyo in 2007, he’d look out his shop window and see an old lady who ran a tobacco store. “This old lady and I became fast friends,” he recalled to the opening day audience at the Food on Demand Conference in Chicago, and ultimately taught him a lesson in hospitality and delivery that he shared with the crowd.

“She would cock her head a little bit and I knew that meant she wanted delivery,” so he would prepare her ramen just the way she liked it, put it on a wooden tray, nod to his guests and “walk the precisely 17 steps to her shop. Together we would inspect the tray to make sure that everything she wanted” was there. “She would pay me a thousand yen, and I would warmly depart and go back to the shop,” he recalled.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect delivery,” Orkin said, urging the audience to “think about how integral hospitality is to successful delivery. “Restaurateurs like myself are ultimately going to choose the vendors that have a robust hospitality quotient in their model.”

Orkin talked with Franchise Times last November, describing his new Ivan Ramen chain he is developing and planning to franchise. Asked when the first one would be open, he would say only late this year and somewhere in driving distance of his current two restaurants in New York City.

The Food on Demand Conference, presented by Food on Demand, Franchise Times’ sister publication, continues today and Tuesday at the Marriott hotel in downtown Chicago. Visit foodondemandnews.com to sign up for the weekly e-newsletter.

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