Radcliffe Lennox, who is from Jamaica, and his Japanese wife Shiho Lennox, opened the first restaurant of its type in Japan. On September 24, 2021, the couple launched their “100-percent Blue Mountain coffee and chocolate shop,” their first eatery and the first such venue in Japan’s history. In 2009, the duo established their Pacific Jamaica Coffee Traders (PICT) LLC business in Shizuoka City, which is currently adding new product lines, including Jamaican fine cocoa.
The new café called “Leny” is located in Yaizu City near City Hall and offers a unique experience for diners in Japan, and it represents a new venture for the Lennoxes. According to the café owners, Leny will provide 75 percent and 95 percent “beans-to-bar” dark chocolate bars that are made from 100-percent Jamaica fine and flavor Trinitario cocoa beans.” The café will also offer light meal services in what the Lennoxes describe as a warm and inviting atmosphere.
“Congrats to Jamaican Radcliffe Lennox & his wife Shiho on the opening of Leny Café and Chocolatier in Shizuoka Pref. The first establishment serving 100% #JBMCoffee and J’can cocoa beans in Japan, Leny will expand our trading relations & help promote, its products & people.” said Shorna-Kay Richards Jamaican Ambassador to Japan on Twitter.
The couple has IT and marketing backgrounds, and Shiho, who is a law major, offers services through her company, which she established more than two decades ago, that include IT server programming, web coding, web engineering, cost-benefit analysis for government and faculty software, statistical design, analysis, and modeling. Radcliffe previously worked as a chartered marketer and has provided business and marketing consulting services, coaching in business and communication, and proofreading and translation services through his own firm to some of the biggest corporations in Japan since 2009. In 2011, he received a commission from the Shizuoka Prefectural Government to provide advice on how to make its airport more profitable and taught an undergraduate marketing course at Shizuoka University. In 2010 through 2012, he was commissioned by Shizuoka Prefecture to rebrand and reposition its travel and tourism product and train personnel on how to be more accommodating to guests from around the world.
Now, however, the Lennoxes are focused on making their new café a success. PICT was capitalized in 2009 with $5 million out-of-pocket, and in the early days, Radcliffe said he ran out of the supply of Blue Mountain coffee he had brought with him from Jamaica. When he could not find the product locally, he got the idea of trading in coffee, which he acknowledged was a “very challenging experience.” They persevered and overcame rejection and Japan’s complex bureaucracy with a “very strong belief in our product.” Ultimately in 2021, investment in coffee and chocolate for Leny was financed with more than $40 million with a mix of personal savings and a bank loan. Leny represents bringing all the complicated pieces of starting a business in Japan together.
The target market for Leny is “connoisseurs who really care about quality,” and their market analysis has indicated that there are people in Japan looking for a “very refined, delicate, and pleasantly distinct” coffee and chocolate experience. The couple also notes a growing demand for healthier foods and authentic products. Radcliffe said, “We believe that the unique, fine-flavored Jamaican cocoa beans will help our chocolate bars stand out very well.”