Denmark-based Japanese restaurant chain Sticks'n'Sushi has revealed it has secured a venue in Covent Garden for its second UK site which it hopes to open before Autumn 2013.
The group, which opened its first restaurant in this country last year in Wimbledon, will take over the Walkabout site on Henrietta Street for a two-floor eatery showcasing the brand's trademark yakitori and sushi menu.
A comparable size to Wimbledon, the Covent Garden restaurant will be entirely funded by the chain and will be able to serve around 150 diners including around an open sushi kitchen so guests can watch the chefs at work.
Andreas Karlsson, the UK operations director of Sticks'n'Sushi, told BigHospitality the company's West End debut was a mark of how well the Wimbledon Hill Road venue had fared in its first 11 months of trading.
"When you enter a market, you never know if your guests will understand and 'get' the proposition of the product," he said. "I wouldn't say we hit bullseye but not far off. We have created a great dining room here in Wimbledon.
"I have used the term affordable luxury before and it is really what we have achieved here," Karlsson continued. "People can trade up from where they normally go and lots of people can trade down and use us as a regular place because it is not outrageously expensive to come and spend an evening with us."
Although he refused to be drawn on numbers, Karlsson confirmed the team had further expansion plans for the capital and were currently in the process of identifying potential sites for the next Sticks'n'Sushi venues.
"Absolutely, but one at a time," he explained. "You have got to do every single opening well and you need to move fast with patience. Our grand plan is certainly more in London but I hate to put numbers (on it).
"We are trying to line a few more up but we really need to get it right in Covent Garden before we go on and find numbers three and four and so on," he said.
Sticks'n'Sushi Covent Garden will have a slightly greater emphasis on cocktails and pre or post-theatre drinks with a larger bar operating alongside an expanded 'hot' kitchen after the 'sticks' part of the concept has proved so popular with UK diners.
Yakitori is a more popular part of the sales mix in the Wimbledon site than in the company's nine restaurants in Denmark - all located within the Greater Copenhagen area.
Karlsson said what the company had learnt from operating in Denmark had translated well to operating in the UK but the team were constantly learning.
"Each restaurant is individually designed so we start from a clean sheet of paper taking the demographics and the space into consideration to make them bespoke for that area. Sticks'n'Sushi is not the copy/paste concept which you can use the word rollout about," he explained.