In Focus

EXCLUSIVE: Mamago's plans to bring a healthier spin on food-to-go

Wagamama pulls back the curtain on how they created the new concept.

Following its opening last week, QSR Media spoke with Andre Johnstone from Wagamama to find out their plans for the latest brand in their stable.

“When I joined Wagamama one of the first things we’d discussed was how great it would be to have a grab and go version of our brand,” Johnstone explained. However, bringing together all the ideas the team had come up with and finding the right site wasn’t so easy, meaning the concept took time to come to fruition.

“The customer demand, partly because Wagamama is so well-loved, is definitely there,” Johnstone went on to add, meaning that opening day was "absolutely packed, and there was a real buzz around the place.”

The menu itself is an amalgam of dishes inspired through trips through Asia and some re-tooled Wagamama favourites.

"However, we’ve challenged our chefs to put healthy spins on the dishes,” Johnstone said. “We’ve made sure the dishes are healthy and we believe that means that instead of customers seeing eating here as a treat, they’ll be comfortable eating here very regularly. Our menu offers meatless options too, such as vegan porridges and cauliflower katsu rice bowls.”

And speed is key too. A first for the wider group, Mamago has kiosk ordering and cooks everything to order with service time "anywhere from 90 seconds to 4 minutes.” This, Johnstone believes, plays well into the consumer trend for convenience and speed of service. “You’ve got to try and do new things in different channels and Mamago does this really well.”

On opening further sites, Johnstone says it's important to spend the time to learn.

"Our philosophy is to do a lot of listening and learning from our customers, and innovate gradually, as the brands that do that are the successful ones. Over time, once we’ve got things right, then we’d look to further sites. I think that there are lots of locations that would suit a Mamago, but the benefit of this first site is that the footfall is such that we can get feedback quickly," he said.

It is clear that the two brands are expected to complement each other. As Johnstone explains: “Mamago obviously lends a lot from Wagamama and it has got to take from the Wagamama brand but also has to give back... be a place of innovation, that will come up with great ideas that may well sporn ideas that feed back to Wagamama."

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