Urban middle class Brazilians are no different to their peers in any country when it comes to the rising importance of take away and home delivery of food. Though the selection is no by no means limited, the pizza industry tends to dominate. One exception however is ‘China in Box’. In this case it’s a reference to food rather than porcelain and nobody seems to bother about the lack of indefinite article…shouldn’t it be ‘China in a Box’?
The chain is now 16 years old and operates under a a holding company for Gendai, a Japanese restaurant chain. The brand was the brainchild of Robinson Shiba on a trip to the US with friends in 1986. He bought the idea back to Brazil as a possible alternative to the ubiquitous pizza delivery.
The first outlet opened in the Sao Paulo neighbourhood of Moema in 1992. At that time the main problem seemed to be a general level of mistrust in the cleanliness of the Oriental kitchen. For this reason the chain has always left the kitchens open to public view, the menus as user friendly as possible and a team of nutritionists were bought in to advise on the quality of offer.
The concept soon developed into franchising, initially amongst friends but soon expanding to incorporate 120 outlets in Brazil and 3 in Mexico. A further 8 new openings are planned for this year.