Having secured a flagship in New York City Wagamama plans to open an additional four key restaurants in the city as the US becomes a focus for the group in the next year, M&C has learnt.

Simon Cope, global brand director for Wagamama described it as “a really exciting time” for the ramen bar operator as it looks to ”crack” the critical US restaurant destination.

“We’ve talked in the past about wanting to expand significantly in the US with a target of 50-60 sites in the next five to six years. having secured this flagship we hope to open four to five in New York in the next 12 months,” Cope told M&C.

Cope said the site overlooking Madison Square Park has been in Wagamama’s sights for more than a year and, anticipating it will open in May 2016, it places the lead time on the first NYC restaurant at more than 18 months but the group felt the time is justified to ensure it makes the right impact.

Situated in an up and coming restaurant neighbourhood the 200-cover site has two street entrances on Fifth Avenue and Madison Square. Cope said the offering will be 80% the same as the UK Wagamama fare but with a bigger bar presence.

The group has a property team searching for additional venues across the city and is currently considering where the next venue will be.

The US focus will remain on New York for the coming year as Wagamama seeks to establish a significant presence there before adding sites in other parts of the country. It currently operates four sites in the US.

The operational team working at the flagship store will be UK driven to ensure the Wagamama brand ethos remains strong, with secondary level management hired locally.

“From a managed site point of view we will focus on the UK and the US while franchise expansion will continue in Europe.

He said the group will continue to grow its UK estate with the opening of “dramatic” sites here such as its recently opened Trafford Centre and Great Marlborough Street restaurants.

Domestically the openings of Wagamama at the Trafford Centre and the two new airport sites have performed particularly well for the group with business as a whole going well.

On the newly-introduced take-out food Cope said the group predicts it will generate repeat custom from diners who occasionally dine-in.

Customers typically visit the noodle bar once in three months, which Cope said will increase with the option for home delivery.

“The growth of the takeout and delivery market is so big and will continue to be so. What you have not had before has been consumers at home having access to Wagamama - we allow customers to have that option.”