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itsu launches robotic futuristic store

itsu, the Asian-inspired, healthy fast-food brand, has unveiled its brand new ‘Store of the Future’ concept using the latest robot technology, which it believes sets a template for high street and fast food dining to spark a post-COVID recovery.

The first site has opened in London’s Great Portland Street in W1 and there are more to follow across the UK. The new store design was completely re-imagined in secret during lockdown specifically for today’s post-COVID world.

Leaner and healthier than any itsu store before it, the new store is the brain child of itsu founder, Julian Metcalfe OBE, and was designed to limit touchpoints (and any unnecessary contact with dishes and between staff & customers) in part thanks to the use of sushi robots and digital ordering technology.

Vastly fewer touchpoints
Unlike any other itsu, the Great Portland Street store is completely digital, designed to vastly reduce touchpoints for both customers and staff. There is a single customer collection point and no front-of-house fridge to reduce multi handling.

The new order and pay screens use the latest technology with card only payments, and enabling customers’ orders to be placed in under 40 seconds, and allowing customers to customise their favourite itsu hot dishes simply and deliciously. This is the very latest technology, built exclusively by itsu’s in-house tech team and designers.

Sushi robots from Japan
Further developments to future proof itsu’s on-site kitchen include the new maki and nigiri sushi robots from Japan, designed to guarantee consistency, productivity (they don’t get flu), and perfect results every time.

Traditionally sushi chefs mould nigiri by hand, but itsu’s advanced robot technology removes unnecessary handling, decreases food wastage and increases speed time for production, as one Nigiri robot can make 4,800 pieces in an hour.

Over 70% of dishes under 500 calories
itsu’s latest and healthiest menu heroes the anti-fried food solution now being promoted by the government to combat obesity and help the nation become more resilient to the risks of COVID-19.

With over 70% of dishes under 500 calories, more than at any other itsu, this new menu has been designed with health and good nutrition in mind, and as always built around the premise that healthy food does not have to be bland and boring.

All hot dishes will be steamed [never fried] and include strong flavours with steamed wholegrain brown rice bowls, noodle bowls with fragrant Asian-inspired broths, detox soups and our steamed [never fried] gyoza. 35 dishes are available on the menu; all have the ability to go light with vegetables and protein only options. What’s more, over a third of the menu is now plant-based.

Metcalfe said, ‘I’ll put in whatever it takes to continue itsu’s success despite the obstacles posed by Covid. Little expense has been spared on this store of the future – it’s top-class stuff which would not look out of place in Kyoto. It’s far more than a business, it’s an absolute crusade. Not since the 50s has fast food caught up with changing tastes and nutrition needs. It's a start. We will lead and many will follow.'

itsu already has the best hygiene ratings on the high-street for any food brand, with 100% 5 Food Hygiene Rating across all stores and its leading ‘hands & handles’ regime whereby it sanitises everything every 20 minutes (well within the safe time for bacteria & viruses to acclimatise). This makes itsu THE brand to be leading this charge.