Dear members,

First of all, you’ll be glad to know that I’ve banned aviation puns from this column. The temptation is powerful, though, as ANA Catering Service takes over as the new food and beverage service at the club from October 2. The airline affiliate’s introduction marks a new era for the club. Get ready for better food and service along with more flexible and creative banquet provisions.

As long-time members will know, the club has sometimes struggled to find the right formula for serving the best food at the right price with excellent service. We are fortunate this time to have found a vendor that recognizes the value in who we are and what we do. And, of course, the FCCJ board and members will understand and appreciate what ANA’s powerful global brand brings to the table.

If there are any wrinkles as we make this transition, please let me know. But credit for bringing ANA Catering to the club belongs to FCCJ director-at-large Taeko Nagayama. She initiated talks with ANA at the highest levels and carefully nurtured them for months. Once a basic agreement was in hand, Nagayama assembled a top team to liaise with ANA Catering on every detail of the deal, from keeping the most important menu items to hiring in existing food service staff. HR chief Toshiko Kawanami, directors-at-large Ilgin Yorulmaz, Randy Schmidt and Simon Farrell, former president Suvendrini Kakuchi and acting general manager Masayuki Hattori also contributed to the task force set up to ensure that ANA Catering maximizes opportunities to serve our members.

Starting on October 2 with a grand opening party, you’ll find many of the same items on the new menu, along with a broader selection of wines, new entrees and a wider range of desserts and beverages. Going forward, we’ll regularly update the menu to reflect what members order most and say they like best. The new vendor is well prepared to be proactive to fulfil member needs. 

ANA Catering has also hired staff from the previous vendor. This is yet another sign of their understanding that the club’s history and traditions matter, and that members’ best expectations will be met.

Nagayama’s big win for the club brings with it a recognition that our status as an international crossroads for dynamic, engaged professionals is recognized beyond the club itself. Just as the FCCJ can see its image getting a boost from the excellent dining experience ANA Catering can deliver, the vendor sees its brand benefiting as well. There are also exciting prospects for working together to offer members more value and for making dining at the club a premium entertaining experience.

Speaking of great food, we’re also introducing a new concessionaire for Masukomi Sushi. Thanks to the timely and well-targeted efforts of AGM Hattori and senior staff members Naomichi Iwamura and Yoshiyuki Hirado, members can enjoy some of the city’s best sushi at the club from October 2 via our new vendor BOS Partners, which operates Sushi Sakaba Sushi Ichi in Tennozu Isle. Here again, we have a partner that sees an opportunity to serve members in a way that builds its own brand and the club’s. Please give the sushi and the new ANA Catering dining experience a try, early and often!

And as we accelerate the club’s growth into the fall, there’s never been a better time to get directly involved at the committee level. Got ideas on how the club could better serve members? The best way to bring those to fruition is taking a spot on a committee. We have openings on virtually every committee, including Food & Beverage, Entertainment and the all-important Election Committee. Message me directly if you’re interested or just have ideas, or can recommend any member who would be good for a role.

Dave McCombs