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Wagamama reopens with innovative social distancing measures

New Japanese-inspired sliding screens aim to keep customers safe

Wagamama reopens with innovative social distancing measures

If you’ve been missing your fix of vegatsu and veggie ramen then you’re in luck, because wagamama has announced plans to reopen its dine-in operation. You can still expect the delicious food you’ve come to love, but there is a slight twist in keeping with current restrictions: sliding screens will be used to keep diners safe while adding to the wagamama dining experience.

Inspired by Japanese partition designs, the clever screens sit on rollers so they can be moved up and down the full length of the dining benches to discreetly separate parties of guests from one another.

The restaurant chain will reopen with four trial sites to test the safety and efficiency of the screens, which have been put in place as a way of meeting strict social distancing guidelines and increased hygiene measures following the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The first site to reopen will be at Royal Festival Hall in central London on 4th July, followed by restaurants in Trafford Centre, Stevenage and Swindon from Monday 6th July.

The screens are part of further efforts wagamama is taking to keep customers safe, including social distanced queueing, disposable menus on placemats and cashless payments. If proven to be successful, we could see another 18 restaurants open by the end of the month, followed by a staged plan to reopen all restaurants by early September.

“Sliding screens (shoji) are at the very heart of the Japanese architectural aesthetic,” wagamama’s design director, Mark Standing, said. “They have been used for hundreds of years to divide spaces in buildings and rooms. I took my inspiration for the design of screen dividers for our long sharing tables and benches from this tradition”.

CEO Emma Woods added: “The main question we have been working on as a team is how can our guests feel safe but still have a communal wagamama experience, sitting on our benches. The team have applied our philosophy of kaizen - good change - to this challenge and I am delighted we have found a design solution which provides social distancing for our guests in a way which is true to the design ethos of the brand.

“We are looking forward to getting our guests back in and obtaining their feedback in the first 18 sites. If these tests go well, we will reopen the remainder of our restaurants throughout August and September.”