Starbucks has topped the rankings as the most preferred restaurant chain in Tokyo, Japan, according to latest industry survey by Nikkei Restaurant, one of Japan’s most far-reaching and highly respected food service industry publications.

The survey, which appeared in this month’s issue of Nikkei Restaurant, also ranked Starbucks as number one for customer service, store design and cleanliness. Based on the survey results, the publication described Starbucks as a company that has “established a firm brand image among customers” in the Japanese marketplace.

Starbucks was included in the publication’s survey for the first time in 1998 and was ranked 12th. This year’s survey had about 1,000 respondents between the ages of 16 and 30-plus, who ranked a list of 56 top restaurant chains in the city. The survey is conducted every two years.

“It is gratifying for me to arrive in Tokyo today and to learn of this recognition,” said Howard Schultz, chairman and chief global strategist of Starbucks Coffee Company. “We are honored to be given such a prestigious recognition and status in the Japanese marketplace in just four years.”

In a speech to 300 Japanese Starbucks partners (employees) who attended Starbucks Coffee Japan’s annual leadership conference, Schultz congratulated them for this incredible achievement in such a short period of time. He also reminded them that Starbucks is still in the very early days of its growth.

“Since our first store opening on August 2, 1996, Starbucks Coffee Japan has opened 131 stores, more stores than Starbucks had in North America in 1992 when we went public with 126 stores,” said Schultz. “This accomplishment demonstrates both the power of the Starbucks brand on the global stage as well as setting the foundation for the acceleration of our global expansion outside of North America.”

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“We are highly encouraged by the findings of the survey,” said Yuji Tsunoda, president of Starbucks Coffee Japan. “Our success is based on serving the best quality coffee in the world and ensuring customer satisfaction always comes first.”

Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. is a joint venture between Starbucks Coffee International and Japanese retailer and restaurateur, SAZABY Inc. Starbucks Coffee International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks Coffee Company, the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world. In addition to its retail locations in North America, the United Kingdom, the Pacific Rim and the Middle East, Starbucks sells coffee and tea products through its specialty operations, including its online store at Additionally Starbucks produces and sells bottled Frappuccino® coffee drink and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships and offers a line of innovative premium teas produced by its wholly owned subsidiary, Tazo Tea Company.