PETITIONERS have been rewarded for their support – with a meal at a new Japanese eatery in Chichester.
More than 800 people campaigned for the arrival of the Wagamama restaurant, after clinching a space in the city’s South Street proved difficult for the chain.
Initial planning permission was denied by Chichester District Council, with the council citing too many restaurants in the city centre.
But the decision was overturned by a planning inspector in September last year, much to the delight of resident noodle-lovers.
New waiting staff were put through their paces on Sunday, as a steady stream of supporters came through the doors.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said David Campbell, chief executive of Wagamama, who spoke to the petitioners at the exclusive event.
“The restaurant has had quite a delay.
“We were really happy because close to 1,000 people signed the petition. It is really nice to have such passionate and lively customers.”
Mr Campbell lives in the Chichester district and said he knew the city well.
“I thought if we are going to be in Chichester, we need to be near the Cross,” he said.
“Most of the city’s visitors spend time around the Cross. I think it will be nice for residents and visitors to have somewhere else to eat.”
Michelle Rodrigues, the restarant’s general manager, said it was ‘great to be opening in the town after so much anticipation’.
“We have a hugely-loyal fan base in Chichester and we’re looking forward to welcoming all our existing noodle fans as well as lots of new diners, too.”
Helen Beal, a Chichester author, launched a petition to bring the chain restaurant to the city.
“We’ve got a good range of restaurants in Chichester, but I think there’s a gap for a restaurant like this,” she said, after the planning inspector gave the green light to the plans.
“I actually wrote to Wagamama several months before, asking them to come to Chichester.”
Planning officers were concerned the store, which was previously occupied by Store Twenty One, would mean more than 15m of continuous non-retail shops in the ‘primary shopping frontage area’ of the city.
The restaurant has created 35 new jobs.