OPINIONEmerging Brands

How far can buzz take a restaurant? Here's a cautionary tale.

Restaurant Rewind: Wagamama was going to blitz the U.S. market, or at least that was talk. Decades later, we're still waiting.

Buzz can be as much of a factor for a restaurant’s success as the caliber of its food and service. Yet the industry has seen countless instances of reality falling short of the hoopla.

This week’s edition of Restaurant Rewind looks back at a prime example, the Wagamama ramen chain. The brand’s success in Europe fostered ample talk that the low-priced favorite of London hipsters would make a similar splash on the U.S. side of the Atlantic. Yet, all these years later, the concept has only seven American outposts open, not the hundreds other parts of the world have seen.

The lack of traction is especially puzzling because the brand had an early proxy in the U.S. that proved the concept’s viability, a close and highly successful knockoff in the harsh proving ground of New York City. 

What happened to a concept with so much potential and industry attention? Join us as we take a look at this prime example of a promising concept somehow failing to find traction.

Download the episode from wherever you get your podcasts.

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