Interviews

Brother-built sushi business rapidly expands to compete against Itsu and Wasabi

3 min read

20 April 2016

Former deputy editor

Small sushi business Maki, a self-proclaimed challenger to chains Itsu and Wasabi, has made the latest step towards expanding the operation as sibling founders Daniel and Anthony Woodcock open a new shop just several months after the previous one.

The Scottish brothers debuted the selection of handmade sushi products with a street food approach back in February 2015 and opened the first fixed Maki premises near Spitalfields Market in September.

Quickly building on the momentum, a new Maki location has been opened in Shoreditch on Old Street, the favoured residence for startups of the digital and creative varieties.

Daniel Woodcock, Maki’s managing director, said: “Sushi chefs are hard to come by but we ensure we only hire the best. Unlike our competitors on the high street we have professional sushi chefs hand rolling our sushi fresh every morning. By doing this we ensure our customers have access to the best taste, quality and choice on the market.”

In this case, the best refers to Renard Ibasco, the company’s head chef. Prior to taking up the post at Maki, Ibasco worked at the Roka restaurant group – an award-winning outfit with venues in upmarket locations including Mayfair and Canary Wharf.

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According to the Woodcocks, hand rolling results in chefs packing in more ingredients and bigger flavours, ergo more variation and better quality than that of rivals. While Ibasco developed the goods to appeal to UK consumers, the appetite for sushi in the US and Australia was described as “progressive” and shops in the countries acted as inspiration for Maki.

Prior to launching, the brothers came equipped with years of experience working in hospitality for the likes of CBRE and IHG. The idea to launch Maki was founded on a frustration that existing chains weren’t being experimental with choice options.

“Antony and myself are real foodies. We were taught to cook by our parents when we were little and still like to cook when we get home from work today,” continued Woodcock.

“Creating something in the food and beverage space was always an ambition of ours, so being in a position to open a second in a bustling place like Shoreditch is a good feeling.”

The pair will concentrate on scaling across London with more stores over the next three to five years, and added that maintaining product quality during the process will be the top priority.

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