London-based YO!Sushi signed its first U.S. franchisee in 2011 and the company is piggybacking on that success for 2012.

YO!Sushi will open its first two American locations this year in Washington, D.C. with leases signed for at least one additional location. The company also plans to sign two to three franchise agreements for approximately 30 units by year’s end.

“Our first American franchisee is a multi-unit, multi-concept franchisee who we believe will do a great job building the YO!Sushi brand in Washington, D.C.,” says Alison Vickers, business development director. “We are pursuing opportunities with similar franchisees in markets like Miami and Boston, and hope to continue growing through large multi-unit deals in major metropolitan areas across the U.S.

The first U.S. YO!Sushi is expected to open in May in Washington D.C.’s Union Station.

“Washington, D.C. is the perfect market for YO!Sushi to make its U.S. debut, and we think Americans will really enjoy the delicious and healthy food and convenience YO!Sushi offers,” Vickers says.

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 U.K.’s market leader in conveyor-belt sushi. YO!Sushi was the first U.K. 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 60 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 such as Chicago, Dallas, and Miami for initial U.S. expansion.

YO!Sushi has collaborated with its key U.S. partners, including Franchise Dynamics, one of the country’s leading full-service franchise sales outsourcing firms, and Baum Realty, one of the country’s premier retail real estate firm, to spearhead its U.S. growth.

YO!Sushi is searching for experienced multi unit franchisees. YO!Sushi anticipates 12 locations open and operating in the U.S. by the end of 2013. Ideal locations include high-visibility areas with strong foot traffic, including urban areas, suburban lifestyle centers, and college towns.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Emerging Concepts, Growth, News, Operations, Pizza, YO! Sushi