YO! Sushi, the largest UK sushi restaurant chain, is to open its first U.S. franchised unit in the Union Station, Washington.
The franchisees, Richard Pawlowski and Darren Wightman, who have signed a 10-year site deal, hope to open two units in the Washington area by the end of the year.
Pawlowski is already a multi-system franchisee with 36 casual dining units in three U.S. chains – Cosi soup and sandwiches, Qdoba Mexican and Bugaboo Creek steakhouses.
Wightman was a former executive chef of the sushi brand in the UK.
YO! Sushi in which diners sit in front of a conveyor belt (travelling at eight cms a second) offering a choice of dishes has 61 restaurants in the UK, and franchises in Ireland, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Norway annually serving 3.5 million customers internationally. Its first international site opened in Dubai in 2003.
Commenting on the U.S. launch, Alison Vickers, business development director, said: “Breaking into the U.S. is the natural next step for the business as we expand our international presence. The Washington restaurant is the first of many as we are in discussions with several experienced multi-unit franchisees in casual dining to take us to other large U.S. metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Boston and Miami.”