SUSHI lovers are in for a treat after plans to open the first new restaurant in Princes Street for decades were given the green light.
City centre business leaders hope the arrival of Yo! Sushi will lead to more eateries following suit by bringing diners to the Capital’s main thoroughfare.
It comes after the council’s shops-only policy for Princes Street was torn up.
Offering views of Edinburgh Castle, the first-floor restaurant will cater for 70 guests at any one time, according to plans drawn up by architects.
Yo! Sushi will also create 30 jobs at its third venue in the Capital – with other restaurants based at Edinburgh Airport and on the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols in St Andrew Square – having previously closed a Rose Street branch.
The company confirmed the restaurant would be moving into the former Clarks shoe shop – a unit which was once an artists’ haven – on Princes Street, but said it could not confirm an opening date.
The plans also include a takeaway window opening on to the street, meaning shoppers in a hurry will be able to grab a sushi roll on the go.
Last year, the city council relaxed planning rules to encourage cafes, bars and restaurants to move on to Princes Street, where the only food outlet is a McDonald’s.
In February, the Evening News told how council chiefs believed encouraging food outlets would help revitalise the street, particularly at the west end, as retail businesses gravitate to the east because of Princes Mall, Multrees Walk and the planned redevelopment of the St James Centre.
However, shoppers will be kept waiting for the opportunity to eat and drink at outdoor continental-style tables, with officials still waiting to entice the first restauranteur into a ground-level property.
Andy Neal, chief executive of city centre business improvement district Essential Edinburgh, said high rents for pavement-level shop fronts means alfresco dining on Princes Street remains unlikely, but said more restaurants would follow Yo! Sushi’s lead.
“I think the use of the upper floors on Princes Street, many of which are frankly an embarrassment because they’re empty or used as storerooms for shops, which doesn’t show Edinburgh in the best light, so something that actually goes in and puts those floors to good use is something we support,” he said.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they haven’t gone into one of the ground-floor spaces because the rents at those shopfronts are really very expensive, so it will be quite difficult for restaurants to go in at that level.
“I think there will be several restaurants interested in taking up that first level, where you’ve still got fantastic views of the Castle, still have the heavy footfall, and the rents aren’t as expensive. I think this will probably be the start of a few restaurants coming into Princes Street.
“And it’s good news for sushi lovers, of which I am one.”