Dishing up YO! Sushi

When YO! Sushi first opened in 1997, the British restaurant chain unveiled a very unique eating experience – delicious Japanese food served via a central conveyor belt.

 Yo! Sushi

When YO! Sushi first opened in 1997, the British restaurant chain unveiled a very unique eating experience – delicious Japanese food served via a central conveyor belt.

The innovative concept allowed customers to pick and choose their meals from a mouthwatering selection as it passed by their tables at 8cm per second. The concept brought a slice of urban Tokyo living to the UK and with the opening of its 60th restaurant, YO! Sushi has certainly changed Britain’s view of raw fish.

Located on Finchley Road just two minutes from Camden Town tube station, YO! Sushi Camden opened its doors in March 2012. The £550,000 restaurant is the latest site to be opened by owners Quilvest and the YO! Sushi management team and is just as dynamic as the 59 that came before it.

Work began on YO! Sushi Camden in December 2011. The main contractor on the project was Matrix IDC Ltd and Philip Watts Design was the interior design architect. Philip Watts Design has worked on more than half of the YO! Sushi restaurants and manufactures and installs many of the bespoke features that can be seen within each site.

Set within a two-storey building, YO! Sushi Camden comprises a 67-cover ground floor restaurant along with first floor washroom facilities, staff areas and associated areas. The site has a fully glazed shop front and features associated YO! Sushi signage.

Inside the restaurant, the decor takes inspiration from its surroundings and combines a rough edgy interior with a hip urban vibe. The walls and columns are covered in Corten cladding to give the impression of a rusty and weathered setting, whilst towards the rear of the site there is a graffiti mural that depicts the Tokyo skyline.

 Yo! Sushi

To add to the restaurant’s vibrant theme, concrete-effect wallpaper runs up the stairway, whilst inside the washrooms bright yellow urinals and sinks offer a quirky surprise for diners who are freshening up.

Additional features include a bright orange light fixture, printed upholstery on the seats and a glamorous mirror that juxtaposes the striking interior.

YO! Sushi Camden is a very unique site that reflects the ever-evolving design aesthetic that has become synonymous with the brand. The layout complements the location perfectly, whilst the restaurant has maintained the tried and tested formula that has made the chain so successful.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“We’ve been providing design consultancy for YO! Sushi since 2005 and over the last seven years we’ve had to meet some very unique requests from the YO! Sushi team. From a designer’s point of view YO! Sushi is all about innovation, so every single restaurant has to be different.

“What we tend to do is look at the site’s location, work out the type of customer that it is likely to attract and then calculate how this will affect the layout. Once this is all weighed up, we adapt the site to meet these requirements.

“The brand has standard components that go into each restaurant – such as the belt and the signage – but beyond this everything else changes. Once we’ve found a design format that works, we use it for that particular restaurant then throw it away when we start on the next.

“YO! Sushi’s can be placed anywhere as they’re highly adaptable, however they need to maintain their functionality. If we were installing a restaurant in an airport or train station we’d include more stools, but if it was in the centre of a town we’d incorporate more booths.

“This way of working can be very challenging as we are unable to reuse the layout for the next restaurant; however, it allows us to develop the type of service that we provide.”

Phillip Watts added:

“Everything ran very smoothly on the site and we completed our work a week earlier than was scheduled, which was very satisfying for the YO! Sushi team and ourselves.

“We’re now looking at four new sites for YO! Sushi in Windsor, Guilford, York and Leeds. The sites couldn’t be more different if they tried and range from period buildings and existing restaurants to a site that isn’t even built yet.”

As the YO! Sushi brand continues to push forward with new and exciting developments, the company continues to maintain strong working relationships with its contractors and suppliers. This relationship has resulted in some truly unique design work and it’s a formula that has proven to suit the individuality of the brand.

Ewan Dryburgh, Dryburgh Gillian Associates Ltd, said:

“We’ve worked with YO! Sushi for 10 years and they’re a fantastic bunch of people to be involved with.

“We got started with the fourth YO! Sushi restaurant in the chain and over the years we’ve witnessed the design continue to evolve into something truly unique.

 Yo! Sushi

“The site in Oxford Circus is one that really stands out for me as it was designed after we came back from spending a week in Tokyo. We were on a fact finding mission to absorb the culture of the city and the site’s design was a direct result of this journey.

“YO! Sushi is a flexible concept that can be weaved into any area and all of the sites perfectly demonstrate what the brand has to offer.”

YO! Sushi Stratford

Located on the first floor of the Westfield shopping centre, YO! Sushi Stratford opened in October 2011. The restaurant is extremely stylish and features oak and copper walls with marble counter tops to create a stunning place to eat. YO! Sushi Stratford includes a mixture of both stool and booth seating and is therefore capable of catering for both busy shoppers and diners with a little more time on their hands.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“YO! Sushi Stratford is located within one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres, so what we wanted to do was to reflect the hustle and bustle of the location in order to create a feature that is very unique and memorable for customers.

“We took a thousand sushi plates, placed a steel rod on the rear of each and then positioned them at different heights to form a quantum cloud of utensils. The sculpture is easily noticeable to all who dine within YO! Sushi Stratford and has created a great talking point for customers.”

YO! Sushi Festival Hall 

YO! Sushi Festival Hall opened in the summer of 2011 and is instantly recognisable to diners for the external conveyor belt that is located outside the restaurant.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“When we provide outside seating, the relationship to the conveyor belt is usually a secondary consideration.  However, we had a different way of thinking at Festival Hall: we made it more of a feature by fitting an external belt alongside umbrellas and heaters. This has in turn provided the restaurant with a very interesting feature.”

Although many customers would agree that the external belt is a highlight of the restaurant, it is not the site’s only interesting feature. Inside the site is an internal ‘s’ shaped conveyor belt, whilst timber ceiling rafts and a large light fitting give diners many reasons to stay indoors.

YO! Sushi Norwich 

YO! Sushi Norwich opened in September 2011 and continues to prove a very successful site for the chain. The interior features textured stone mosaic, timber walls with wicker ceiling rafts and a snaking steel gantry.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“YO! Sushi Norwich is another fantastic restaurant that is doing great business in Norwich. Seeing a site in full swing is always great and it fills us with a fantastic sense of achievement to know that we have been involved in something so successful.”

YO! Sushi Liverpool

Located within another shopping centre, YO! Sushi Liverpool opened in 2008 in the city’s prestigious Liverpool One. Once again the site offers a very imaginative interior with camouflage wall paper and a hexagonal lighting raft that is reminiscent of the game board on the classic TV show, Blockbusters.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“Like with any of the sites we work on, YO! Sushi Liverpool offered up challenges. However, it opened on time and was a great site to be involved with.”

YO! Sushi Brighton 

When it opened in 2005, YO! Sushi Brighton was the first YO! Sushi restaurant to be built outside of London.

Philip Watts Design Managing Director, Philip Watts, said:

“Not only was Brighton the first YO! Sushi outside of the capital, it was also the first of their restaurants that we were involved with. The brand was already established in London and so the site had to introduce its own unique flavour outside of this location.

“The takeaway area in the restaurant was made up of half an ice cream van, whilst the ceiling was painted to look like the sky and the floor was covered in fake grass. There are even little gnomes on the tables. The restaurant is very different and yet very much in keeping with Brighton.”

He added:

“There’s something about the YO! Sushi brand and the service that we provide that has resulted in a very natural working relationship that continues to grow.

“We were very flattered to be asked to work with YO! Sushi all those years ago on the Brighton site and we are still flattered that they keep asking us.”

VincentStokes Ltd 

VincentStokes Ltd is a Principle Contractor that specialises in fit-out and new build works, primarily within the health, fitness and retail sectors.

The company’s wealth of experience in design and construction enables Vincent Stokes Ltd to build long-term relationships with its clients, working on £40,000 refits right through to £5 million projects.

As well as Yo! Sushi, clients include Reebok, Nuffield Health and Wellbeing, Virgin, Spire Hospitals, NHS and Sports & Leisure Management Ltd along with a large number of local authorities.

VincentStokes Ltd has been the main contractor on more than 20 YO! Sushi restaurants including Norwich, Blue Water, Bath and Royal Festival Hall.

Working for YO! Sushi, the company provides buildability advice and is involved with design development from the initial stages right through to completion. Through careful consultation with its clients, VincentStokes Ltd is able to implement techniques and processes that deliver a product that everyone can be proud of.

VincentStokes Ltd Financial Director, Rob Deans, said:

“We are proud to be part of the Yo! Sushi delivery team. We have a hands on approach to working with our clients, suppliers and contractors which allows us to provide a single team approach to fast track, and often logistically difficult, schemes.

“It is great being part of such a dynamic roll out and realising some really great, vibrant designs.”

IVC Signs Ltd 

IVC Signs Ltd manufactures and installs all of YO! Sushi’s building signage, hoarding graphics, architectural signage, light boxes, wallpaper murals and lighting gantries. Over the last five years, IVC Signs Ltd has developed a successful working relationship with YO! Sushi to provide signage and graphics for more than 20 of its restaurants.

IVC Signs Ltd Partner, Phil Stratten, said:

“We have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of such creative and diverse projects. We like to push the boundaries of modern sign making and are very excited to be working with such a professional and dynamic company as Yo! Sushi.”

“At IVC Signs Ltd we have specialised in the building signs corporate sector for over 20 years. We offer a comprehensive nationwide service encompassing full surveys, design, manufacture and installation services on retail building signage for restaurants, shops, offices, schools, hospitals, airports and local authorities.”

 Yo! Sushi

Phillips Decorators Ltd

Phillips Decorators Ltd is an experienced commercial decorating company that provides decorating services to industrial and retail sectors throughout the UK. The company completes work in a prompt and professional manner and offers competitive quotes.

On 11 YO Sushi! restaurants Phillips Decorators Ltd has provided specialist interior decoration works for both front and back of house areas.

Phillips Decorators Ltd Contracts Manager, Ian Rabbetts, said:

“YO! Sushi are great sites to work on. For front of house operations we use acrylic emulsion to cover walls and we use oil paints to cover any finished woodwork. For the back of house we cover ceilings in mat emulsion.”

“At Phillips Decorators Ltd we provide a first class finish, first time, every time.”


PHCC Ltd is a specialist designer and supplier of commercial catering equipment to the whole foods service industry within the UK.

The company design, supply, project manage and install commercial kitchens, counters and bars for many well-known businesses from fast food restaurants to Michelin star establishments.

PHCC Ltd also supply light equipment, refrigeration units, furniture and exhaust hood systems. With an expert team of experienced staff, PHCC Ltd provides a full consultancy service to its clients whether they are opening a new kitchen or remodelling an existing unit.

PHCC Limited has worked with Yo! Sushi for over six years, manufacturing bespoke equipment to over 45 new restaurants. The company designs kitchen and catering equipment to reflect the interior layout of each restaurant.

PHCC Ltd Managing Director, Steve Hammond, said:

“PHCC Ltd is a small, yet professional company where a lot of work comes from repeat business due to the excellent service that we provide.

“We have a fantastic reputation throughout the UK for our attention to detail and we pride ourselves on meeting the needs of our customers.”

Matrix IDC Limited 

Matrix IDC Limited specialises in medium-sized commercial design and build development throughout the UK.

The company  offers an unrivalled service to their long term clients and together with their joinery arm – Premier Joinery – Matrix IDC Limited’s independent specialisation in high speed shopfitting, barfitting and bespoke joinery leads the way for many clients throughout the UK and overseas.

Matrix IDC Limited and Premier Joinery offer the ‘full one stop shop’ service to their clients, covering all aspects of in-house construction and specialist joinery from pre-tender advice to the finished article.

Matrix IDC Limited are very pleased to be associated with the YO! Sushi brand and are particularly proud to have been chosen to work on:

YO! Sushi – Camden

YO! Sushi- Stratford City

YO! Sushi – Arndale Manchester

YO! Sushi – Selfridges Manchester

YO! Sushi – Poland Street, London

YO! Sushi – Reading

YO! Sushi – Aberdeen

YO! Sushi – Glasgow

YO! Sushi – St Paul’s London

YO! Sushi – Oslo Norway

YO! Sushi – Plymouth

YO! Sushi – Solihull

YO! Sushi – Norwich

“We are delighted to be part of this international iconic success and to work with YO! Sushi’s highly dedicated professional team.”

“Working on the YO! Sushi projects often demands high standards of workmanship coupled with demanding timescales. We have continued to excel in both of these respects in order to meet the client’s satisfaction.”

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