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Spotlight On: YO! Sushi Waterloo

post-image 5th May 2016

YO! If you were to Google this word, you’d get the following definition: “used to greet someone, attract their attention, or express excitement.” This is seemingly a bold name for any brand, especially considering that what is now the YO! Sushi empire began as a single, small restaurant in the middle of Soho in the winter of 1997, founded by a Tokyo cuisine inspired British entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe.

The excitement and boldness that rings out behind the YO! name is however well deserved, and it quickly became apparent that YO! had a lot to shout about. Just four years after the opening of its initial store, YO! was the market leader in sushi restaurants, with branches serving its (now) iconic Tokyo inspired produce across Britain. Two further years later in 2003, the organisation had expanded to 12 restaurants, then in 2010 they celebrated the opening of their 50th –and with it –their entry into the common tongue as a popular brand and household name. Today in 2016, the brand has practically doubled in size again to nearly 100 branches.

One of the main reasons for their success was their then ‘outlandish’ and utterly foreign cuisine. In 1997, London was unknowingly at the beginning of a sushi revolution. Sushi chains such as Wagamama, Wasabi and Itsu were all to follow, riding a wave of Londoners’ desire for high protein, low carb, low interference healthy food.

YO! Sushi restaurants capitalised on this want for healthy and different food. Customers in branch can take their pick of colour coded plates of sushi that are delivered in the Japanese ‘Kaiten’ conveyor belt method. This means that patrons speak to staff only to order drinks and each dish is prepared by a chef who operates in plain view of all in the room, as their food gently glides past their seats in what must have seemed a futuristic ballet of technology at the turn of the century.

This bold chain has been rewarded constantly for their futuristic and modern aesthetic, both as a restaurant and as a brand. In 2008, they became the first catering group to adopt the FSA’s light colour-coding system and in 2010 they won two awards for having the ‘best restaurant website in the world’. Perhaps what indicates their continued success most however is the presence of a YO! restaurant in Waterloo. Being there, in one of the busiest stations in Europe, in one of the most rapidly developing areas of London demonstrates the dynamism of the band, and is a testament to their continued and blossoming success.