No kitchen shape too tricky for Sticks ‘n’ Sushi

Cambridge kitchen

Restaurant chain Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has opened its most eye-catching site yet in which the kitchen features as the central focal point and has no walls around it.

Open kitchens are a hallmark of Sticks ‘n’ Sushi’s operation and its architects are positively encouraged to integrate them into the overall design and feel of the room, incorporating any quirks of the building that might be present.

In Cambridge, where the restaurant is located in the grade 2 listed Guildhall, the kitchen has been designed as a central island with no walls around it (main picture).

“It is an extremely spectacular sight for the guests,” managing director Andreas Karlsson told FEJ. “They can literally sit around the kitchen without any walls.”

While there is a certain kitchen footprint the company will need based on the number of covers, the configuration will ultimately be determined by the physical shape of the site. The kitchen in its first UK restaurant, in Wimbledon, could be described as a conventional square shape, but in its popular Covent Garden site, for example, it is distinctively long and narrow, almost like a corridor.

Karlsson admits the latter design is actually less preferable because it increases the distance between chefs and the various stages of preparation.

“When you work together in a stressful environment, as kitchens can be, it is easier when you can actually look at people and you can communicate by seeing each other’s faces. In a longer kitchen the plates have further to travel from prep to the pass compared to a square kitchen, so productivity can be affected.”

ChopsticksSticks ‘n’ Sushi plans to write a new chapter in its UK growth story this year by expanding the number of sites it operates. “The UK journey is four-years-old and in that time we have managed to open four restaurants, with a further two restaurants to open this year. The following calendar year we are aiming for a further two, possibly three,” Karlsson said.

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi plans to open a sixth London site, adjacent to Victoria Station, in September, but perhaps the more exciting development in context of its long-term plans is the launch of operations outside the capital. As well as Cambridge, a lease has been agreed in Oxford, where it will open at the end of 2017.

Finding suitable locations hasn’t proved difficult so far. “We are operating within the usual kind of space requirements that operators have, which is anything from 3,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet,” explained Karlsson. “Our restaurants are between 3,500 and 5,000 square feet. We are not after those 10,000 square feet locations — we are sitting quite nicely in the 100 to 190 seat category. That is the sweet spot for us.”

Sticks ‘n’ Suhshi was founded in Copenhagen in 1994 by brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek and Thor Andersen, who took inspiration from their half-Japanese, half-Danish background to create a unique concept blending Japanese sushi and yakitori under one roof.

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