Smile Dining in Higashimatsushima
The restaurant, Smile Dining, is located in Higashimatsushima.
Well, who doesn’t love smiles? —we decided to drop in.
Its inside was nicely decorated with Americana, and in the background, old music was playing.
Cook Mami Ninomiya and server Masumi Abe jointly run the restaurant. Both of them are from Nobiru (Higashimatsushima) and they have been friends since they were elementary school kids. They lost their homes in the 2011 disaster and they stayed in the same evacuation center. That was the beginning of Smile Dining.
At first, they sold boxed lunches to volunteers who came to Higashimatsushima. Mr. Abe worked as a delivery guy. One day, Ms. Ninomiya told some volunteers about her dream to open her own restaurant. They encouraged her to realize her dream.
The volunteers helped out preparing some of the restaurant such as the kitchen and the wood deck, and they also provided decorations inside and helpful information about financing and more to Ms. Ninomiya and Mr. Abe.
The name, Smile Dining, came from the owners’ wish to make it a place where the volunteers and the locals can gather with smiles on their faces. They also hope to return the favor for all the support the volunteers gave them.
It’s clear from a glance that this place owes a lot to people coming together to support each other.
We asked Mr. Abe about his outlook for the future. He spoke passionately about opening another restaurant in Nobiru.
Masumi Abe (left) and Mami Ninomiya
Even though we had just dropped by the restaurant, they gave us a warm welcome.
If you want to have some nice food to put a smile on your face, pop in to Smile Dining.