Richard Pawlowski, the guy behind numerous Cosi and Qdoba Mexican Grill locations in the District, is opening America’s first outpost of London’s emphatically branded YO!Sushi chain inside Union Station in 2012. The U.K. eatery is perhaps best known for its conveyor-belt style of sushi service, with various rolls and sashimi all zigzagging around diners at an estimated rate of “3.1 inches per second,” according to a press release.
More details from Pawlowski headquarters below:
YO!SUSHI SET TO MAKE UNITED STATES DEBUT
Experienced owner to open 10 locations in Washington D.C., Philadelphia
(Washington, D.C.)—- London-based YO!Sushi has announced its first franchisee in the United States. The Sushi Company of North America, LLC, led by Richard Pawlowski, will open at least 10 restaurants in the mid-Atlantic corridor between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. The first will open in Union Station opposite the Chipotle Mexican Grill in early 2012.
Pawlowski’s companies own 36 restaurants along the Eastern seaboard: 11 Qdoba Mexican Grills in D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia, 13 Cosis in D.C., and 12 Bugaboo Creek Steak Houses from Maryland to Maine. Pawlowski, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, got his start in the U.S. job market working for Bain & Company. In this new venture, Pawlowski has teamed up with Darren Wightman, who will serve as operating partner for YO!Sushi. Wightman was formerly the executive chef for YO!Sushi in the U.K. and oversaw the development and operation of 14 stores as operations manager.
“We are thrilled to be the first YO!Sushi franchisee in the United States. The first time I ever tried sushi it was from YO!Sushi in London and I really loved the food,” Pawlowski said. “I’m confident that the YO!Sushi brand will take off in D.C. and in the rest of the U.S.”
YO!Sushi started the sushi revolution in London in 1997 by introducing the concept of a Japanese “kaiten” sushi bar that gave time-starved, hungry customers instant access to delicious, healthy sushi and other Japanese favorites via a conveyor belt traveling 3.1 inches per second that zig-zagged around diners.
By 2001 it was the UK’s market leader in conveyor-belt sushi. YO!Sushi was the first UK restaurant chain to open in Dubai in 2003 and is now the Japanese market leader of both conveyor and non-conveyor restaurants.
YO!Sushi serves sushi rolls, sashimi, Asian-inspired salads and a large variety of classic, hot Japanese dishes on color/price-coded dishes via a sleek, snaking conveyor belt. YO!Sushi operates more than 55 company-owned restaurants in the U.K., as well as more than a dozen franchised locations in Ireland, Portugal and the Middle East. The company is focused on the East Coast and other major markets like Chicago, Dallas and Miami for initial U.S. expansion.
YO!Sushi is searching for experienced multi unit franchisees similar to Pawlowski/Wightman’s profile. YO! Sushi anticipates five to 10 locations open and operating in the U.S. by the end of 2012. Ideal locations include high-visibility areas with strong foot traffic, including urban areas, suburban lifestyle centers and college towns.