Creating a space that customers want to talk about

Offering exquisite French cuisine mindful of the smallest details, Nautilus’s two Tokyo locations are a favorite destination for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or afternoon tea. This amazing aquarium restaurant feels like a luxury cruise liner – featuring marble accents, more than 1500 fish, and of course, drinks topped with Ripples prints.
We spoke to the owner, Ms. Inoue, about Nautilus’s strategy and appeal.

Please tell us how you came up with this fantastic concept.

Inoue: Restaurant sales in Japan have been dropping since even before the pandemic, because office culture is changing. Going out to restaurants after work and drinking with colleagues and your bosses has fallen out of favor, especially with the younger generations. We wanted to fill a new need with our restaurant – not a place to visit every day, but the place you go for a special occasion, like an important date or a birthday.
As for the aquarium aspect – I love fish, and I wanted to create and share the opportunity to enjoy a meal while watching cute fish swimming around me in a large aquarium.

The interior of this restaurant is incredible – it makes you feel like you’re on a luxury submarine – who designed the space?

Inoue: We asked Tetsuya Matsumoto, a world-renowned and award-winning designer, to bring our concept to life. We’ve created a luxury space tailored for all kinds of groups and types of events – from cozy couple seats to semi-private rooms, to a private VIP space.
We’re set up to serve a traditional dinner, but we’ve had an exponential increase in customers, especially young women, since we introduced an afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea paired with the ambiance of our aquarium has been amazing, and perfect for social media. It’s gotten us attention from the start. We offer Ripples-topped drinks at the afternoon tea and for our dinner service. Lattes printed with sea creatures are very popular here.

By incorporating “Instagrammable” elements like your afternoon tea in the aquarium and Ripples-topped lattes, you’ve succeeded in attracting customers despite opening during the pandemic. What made you decide to introduce the Ripple Maker?

Inoue: I had heard of Ripples before I launched this restaurant, and I wondered if it would be a way for me to do something interesting with drinks. I was convinced at my very first meeting. I had my selfie printed on a drink, and I was blown away by the image quality. I felt that this would be an amazing value-add for our customers.
At our restaurant we use Swarovski princess glassware and Francfranc shell motif tableware. When we take a shell-shaped cup and top it off with seashells and tropical fish design with the Ripple Maker – it’s insanely cute. It’s important to stick the landing on these small details.

In the age of social media if you are focused on the small details, your customers will notice, and they’ll spread the word.

Ms. Inoue, Owner, Nautilus

We get a lot of influencers visiting our restaurant. We don’t hire them, they all found us themselves thanks to social media. The power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially by these young women keeping an eye on the latest trends, is amazing. However, restaurants that only focus on appearances don’t stay popular. The most important thing is to serve delicious food.

We serve French cuisine, but since most of our customers are in their twenties there’s a risk in having an expensive menu. However, we’ve been able to impress our customers with high-class offerings like truffles, caviar, and lobster. It has made us a venue for special celebrations as opposed to a place people visit every week. Our rate of return is a little low (laughs), but that’s ok. I’m happiest when I can make my customers happy and hit them in the wallet at the same time.

What else are you planning to offer with your Ripple Maker?

Inoue: I think the possibilities of Ripples are endless! For example, whenever we change the theme of the afternoon tea, for example to mermaid, Halloween, or Christmas, we can offer prints of the theme – and there’s already content for us in the library.
Also, since so many of our customers are here for a date or a birthday, it’s nice to print photos of couples and friends.
I also plan to start incorporating Ripples into our dessert menu— I’m going to start printing on macarons.

Even though the Ripple Maker is so easy to use – it really is just the touch of a button – customers have been more impressed than I ever expected. And it has gotten us so much word-of-mouth buzz on social media. I think every restaurant should try using Ripples!