Former Pizza Express boss Richard Hodgson brings considerable international restaurant and retail experience to his role and this nous has been invaluable as YO! has embarked on a significant period of expansion.
Kitchen innovation has undoubtedly kept YO! at the forefront of the Japanese fast-casual market, with the company evolving the dynamics of its kitchens to support the growth of hot food, which now represents 50% of sales.
To achieve this it has worked with suppliers to ensure the right ergonomics and equipment for each task. As a result, it has trialled and installed new kit such as self-filtering fryers, pasta boilers, gyoza steamers, rice cookers, nigiri machines and robata grills.
These enhancements have been central to supporting the roll-out of an additional 35 dishes over the past year.
Significantly, Richard has also overseen a change that nobody ever thought they would see after a couple of its stores became the first to operate without its iconic conveyor belt.
He describes the move – designed to highlight that it is no longer just a sushi concept – as “probably the biggest thing that’s happened to YO! since it was founded”.
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