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Coronavirus: Japanese sushi chain YO! changes conveyor belt

Japanese chain YO! is changing its conveyor belt ordering system at its UK restaurants to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The firm is known for its ‘kaizen’ belt, which currently sends out dishes on a loop for customers to choose from.

Chief executive Richard Hodgson said the format had become ‘tired’ and is rolling out new technology that allows diners to order from their table using their mobile phones and pay their bill in advance.

Diners will be able to order from their table using their phones and pay their bill in advance

Diners will be able to order from their table using their phones and pay their bill in advance

Diners will be able to order from their table using their phones and pay their bill in advance

The conveyor belts are being reprogrammed so that dishes are only dispatched once orders have been placed. 

The new format has been tested at Yo!’s Guildford restaurant, and will be in place in every site that reopens this summer.

The first restaurants to reopen alongside Guildford on July 4 are expected to be Cheshire Oaks, Ashford, Newcastle and Leeds. The chain will then reopen three further sites each week over the summer as part of a phased re-opening programme.

If the new format is a success, Hodgson hopes to eventually upgrade the majority of YO!’s 70 UK restaurants, which employ 1,400 staff. It has invested around £4million in upgrading sites to date.

The reboot is an early example of how restaurants will have to adapt to provide safe dining areas in a post-Covid world.

Yo! will not use Perspex screens or barriers between diners, but will ensure safe distancing by keeping bar stools empty between parties, and seating groups in separate booths.

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