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Inamo projects significant returns for seven-figure Covent Garden site

07 January 2016 by

Technology-led restaurant Inamo is expecting a significant uplift in interest after relocating its St James's site to Covent Garden.

At 150 covers the new pan-Asian restaurant - which opens this week on the former site of Café des Amis - is smaller than St James's, but its enhanced technology and central location have raised expectations.

Inamo chief executive and managing director Lee Skinner said: "We've put a significant investment into this restaurant - the fit out alone is seven figures - so of course we expect a decent pay back. But we've got 300 people booked in for Saturday already, so the interest is there.

"Realistically our opening target this weekend is 700 covers. And we should be through that by Sunday lunchtime. It's likely that we'll be similar numbers on Saturday to one of our best days in St James'."

Inamo's St James restaurant and its existing Soho site were known for an e-table system which allowed diners to order through a projected menu on the table, as well as adjust the lighting and play games.

Having come to the end of a five year lease at St James, Crown Estates asked Inamo if they would hand the lease back, so the business negotiated an exit to facilitate a move to Covent Garden.

The table technology remains at the Covent Garden site, but diners will order from a menu featuring sushi and sashimi alongside black cod in spicy miso, chicken satay and Korean lamb through a tablet and use an infrared pointer to adjust the lighting and ambience at the table, until the functionality is added to the tablet. Through new projection technology, developed by Inamo's sister company Audamo, diners can change the interactive table cloth, view the restaurant's chef cam, and even view their own photo montage (diners are given the option to supply images at the booking stage).

Inamo founder Noel Hunwick said: "We've tried to bring in more animation. So before the images were static but now we've got the ability for images to effectively peel, or float away, while we've also added characters that might appear when watching chef cam.

"There's our nigiri ninja which slices his way through the image on the table and disappears when he catches sight of the diner. There are more ways to put a smile on the guest's face. This is a massive change to the business."

Along with the projectors over each table, the restaurant features 260 bespoke square lights which can be set by diners to create an individual ambience. They illuminate the basement bar and sushi station, which is surrounded by onyx panels, as well as the two restaurant floors which feature white larch and walnut ply as well as more onyx detail.

Skinner said: "Ordering using the e-table has been a fantastic USP for us, it still is, in fact we've just done a record month in Soho and we're 50% up year on year. But the excitement in the company is now about the investment in the lighting and onyx bar to create this plush feel. Though the prices aren't going to change."

Hunwick added: "What we wanted to do was have something that was impactful but made part of a number of things to provide the complete experience. Obviously the food and service has to be up there, but we've tried to add in the service potential along with the ambience and experience. It's all the touches that add together."

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