Taco Rice creator Parlor Senri closes after 31 years
July 16, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
The creator of the now nationally famous Taco Rice,Taco-rice founder Parlor Senri, in the town of Kin in northern Okinawa, closed on June 29 after 31 years in operation. While fans lamented the store’s closing, they also expressed excitement about tasting the same flavor at chain restaurants across Okinawa Prefecture.
A total of seven King Tacos outlets serve the same Taco Rice dishes as those of Parlor Senri.
Parlor Senri was founded in 1984 by Matsuzo Gibo, who died last December at age 85. Due to a serious staff shortage, the restaurant had recently only been open from Friday to Monday. Parlor Senri operators decided in early June to close the original branch in order to increase personnel at the chain outlets and at factories also in need of help. Gibo had also thought that the restaurant’s closure would become inevitable if maintaining it became a burden for staff members.
“We wanted to keep the restaurant, which is full of memories of struggle and success for our family, but we decided to prioritize our staff members’ wellbeing. We want to continue serving affordable and generous portions of Taco Rice at chain restaurants,” said Sayuri Shimabukuro, 39, granddaughter of the founder and head of King Tacos.
Thirty-six-year-old singer, Junbo, who performs with Zuka, a music band from Kin, jokes that he has been working to achieve a greater level of fame than Taco Rice. “While I was in high school, I bit my tongue during club activities. Even when my tongue was hurting, I polished off Taco Rice,” he said, referring to the spicy dish. “I am grateful to Senri for making Kin famous through Taco Rice.”
“Even though the restaurant no longer exists, I do not feel sad, because I think about the fact that Parlor Senri’s Taco Rice has become part of my body,” said Hiroki Nagahama, 28, of Naha city, who won a Taco Rice speed eating contest in 2007.
(English translation by T&CT and Scott Murphy)
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