But one Japanese restaurant really does allow cash-strapped diners to pay for their meals with the promise of free labour.
The eatery, called Mirai Shokudo, is located in Tokyo’s Jinbocho district and has already ’employed’ 500 people for one-off shifts to settle their tabs.
The brainchild of ex-programmer Sekai Kobayashi, 33, the diner – which opened in 2016 – is deliberately designed to be ‘inclusive’ of poor people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to eat out.
They can either pay for their orders in cash or choose to work a 50-minute stint.
completed during the day, patrons will be required to take orders and clear plates, while those working at night will need to wash dishes and so on.
Kobayashi, who is the only permanent employee on-site, also publishes her business’s financial details online and advises other potential foodies on how to launch a restaurant.
Speaking of how she went from coding to cooking, she told China Daily: ‘My colleagues really liked the lunches I made for them. This led me to strongly consider opening my own restaurant.
‘Afterward, I received vocational training at a leading restaurant chain and other places before opening Mirai Shokudo.
Those looking for jobs might feel that making the wrong choice could ruin the rest of their lives. But it’s okay to change course later on. That’ll eventually lead you in a direction that you feel strongly about. That’s what happened for me.’