Sushi Itto, which blends Japanese dishes with ingredients fromthe Western Hemisphere, currently has two US locations in SanDiego. The chain would like to add about 20 new units next year,throughout California, Nevada and Texas, says Alberto Romano, SushiItto's owner and president. Los Angeles-based Infinity RealtyGroup, headed by president Steve Berck, is handling the USexpansion.

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"We have all of the factors in our control, so we can work outour expansion," Romano says. The chain is looking for locations ina variety of real estate, including food courts in malls, urbanstreets and lifestyle centers. Its restaurants average 2,200sf.

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Romano says he is not sure yet how many Sushi Itto units he willopen in the US, but is planning a major roll out. "If Mexico andCentral America can support 100, you could multiply that by five,"he says.

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For the initial rollout, Romano says that he will not franchiseout his restaurants. "It's easier for me to have control of whatI'm doing," he explains.

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The average check at Sushi Itto for dinner is $24. Romano saysthat he chose San Diego for the first US locations because of thecity's diversity with immigrants, tourists, upscale consumers andUS Navy employees.

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