Butterfly Effect: Itsu May Return to U.S.

As the summer approaches, two foreign dining establishments will have landed on the banks of the Potomac – ready to serve Asian cuisine. Yo! Sushi will have opened its first American outpost at Union Station while Wagamama will finally welcome guests on seventh street. Both concepts will be closely monitored by their owners. But another sushi chain called Itsu will also be monitoring the success of Yo! and Wagamama.

Founded in 1997 by Julian Metcalfe, Itsu is a thriving upmarket chain in the U.K. It came briefly to New-York City via a partnership that eventually didn’t work. Sites were shut down or later re-branded. But the popularity of Asian cuisine and international dining establishments in D.C could work in Itsu’s favor. “[We] may well open in the US in the next couple of years,” said an Itsu representative. “This time we will operate the stores ourselves to ensure they’re as good as the Itsu we have come to know and expect here in the UK.”


Wagamama Confirmed for Early 2012

One of D.C’s biggest dining mysteries, which left many of us puzzled over the past year, has been solved. The Internationalist received confirmation today from Wagamama’s Nancy Barrett (U.S. Marketing Director) that the Penn Quarter location WILL open in 2012. They are beginning to build-out the space and WILL change the exterior signage to “coming in early 2012.”  They are “ready to go” and hope to announce an exact date soon.

Foreign Restaurant Invasion

Trends show the continuation of a foreign restaurant invasion this year. The metropolitan area remains highly attractive due to a robust spending capacity and consumer diversity. We’ve outlined the plans known thus far. Opening dates are rough approximations.
+ 1 = Gaithersburg, MD (Summer 2011)
+ 1 = Bethesda, MD (Late Summer 2011)
PAUL Bakery & Cafe *
+ 1 = Washington, D.C. (Spring 2011)
+ 1 = Georgetown (Fall 2011)
Yo!Sushi *
+ 1 = Location TBD (Summer 2011?)
Ping Pong Dim Sum = Actively looking for third site.
+ 1 = Dupont Circle (Summer 2011)
Pret A Manger = Actively looking for additional sites.
Wagamama *
+ 1 = Washington, D.C (Winter 2011?)
Le Pain Quotidien
+ 1 = Washington, D.C (Spring 2011)

* indicates first area location

Whoa Mama!

Will the mystery surrounding Wagamama’s desire to set up shop in D.C. finally come to an end? We believe so. On a recent visit to Penn Quarter, the “For Lease” signs were no longer visible on the property. 

Rumors suggested Wagamama could be ready for business in the first half of 2011. But Wagamama’s marketing director in the U.S. refused to comment on this, but did indicate her office would be in touch with us soon. This development comes after the UK-based company revealed an ambitious plan to open 650 U.S. stores…whoa mama!