MANATEE -- A custom sushi shop that allows diners to build their own roll is looking to open in University Park as the chain expands to Tampa Bay.
How Do You Roll announced Tuesday the Austin, Texas- based company is looking to sign leases in University Park, in Tampa near University of South Florida, plus Estero's Gulf Coast Town Center and Mercato in Naples.
The chain signed an agreement with franchisee Christ Martin as M Concepts LLC to operate the area restaurants.
"Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and I would like to grab it fresh, and quickly," Martin said in a news release explaining his interest in the chain. "It's quality, fresh and healthy food."
The sushi shop was founded by brothers, Yuen and Peter Young, as a fast-casual restaurant with 10 locations across the country, including in Gainesville and Sunrise. The company plans a rapid expansion to hit 200 restaurants.
"We began franchising three years ago, and we're a grand total of 5 years old," said Brittany McGee, a spokeswoman for How Do You Roll. "We're constantly looking at innovation and what the next cool thing could be."
Customers go through the line picking the type of roll or cone, meat, fruits and veggies, giving a bit of a Subway assembly line experience to sushi rolls and bowls from 12 flavors on the menu. The menu includes raw tuna as well as nontraditional sushi choices, like grilled chicken and beef, avocado or strawberries McGee said.
"We pride ourselves on our customization while we
have a lot of features on our menu," she said.
The chain focuses on customer experience, hence the fast-casual model, where the food is brought to the customer and employees check to see if drinks need to be refilled and whatever else someone needs to make it through their meal, McGee said.
If How Do You Roll is eyeing University Park, much of the retail through the University Parkway corridor is owned by Benderson Development, which leases space to Pei Wei Asian Diner at the Shoppes at University Town Center off of Cooper Creek Boulevard.
Benderson will be adding more restaurant space on Cattlemen Road south of University Parkway plus in a future phase of the University Town Center development between the new Mall at University Town Center and Interstate 75.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.