Yo! Sushi was founded by British businessman Simon Woodroffe in 1997 and was the first to bring Japanese ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt-style eating to the UK. The brand is now owned by a private equity group and has over 70 restaurants in the UK, plus others in the US, Denmark, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway.
Despite being one of the country’s biggest restaurant chains, Yo! Sushi has never had a particularly memorable aesthetic beyond its distinctive logo, conveyor belt set-up and brightly coloured furniture. In an attempt to inject some ‘authenticity’ into the brand, design agency &Smith has refreshed its identity, with new menus, staff uniforms and interior graphics inspired by anime and manga culture.
The new designs have been rolled out across all of Yo!Sushi’s UK restaurants and will appear in US sites later this month. Menus now feature black-and-white graphic patterns and illustrations loosely inspired by anime and manga comics, and Kanji script has been introduced to menus so customers can learn the Japanese names for each dish. &Smith says the new designs aim to highlight the origins of the brand’s food and re-position Yo!Sushi as a place to experience “a true taste of modern Tokyo”.
Dan Bernstein, director of &Smith, says the idea came from a meeting with executive chef, Mike Lewis. (Lewis has won food and menu innovation awards for his work with the group – last year, he introduced a limited edition range of dishes inspired by Asian street food and Western dishes, such as a ‘J-Dog’, a Japanese twist on a hot dog).