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Nacionsushi franchise arrives in Puerto Rico with $2.5M restaurant

​​Nacionsushi, a casual restaurant chain that was born in Panama in 2014, is making its debut in Puerto Rico with a location at San Patricio Plaza’s Liberty Square through a $2.5 million investment.

The sushi and Asian food restaurant will span 4,100 square feet and is still in the construction phase. However, an opening date for the restaurant with capacity for 185 guests is projected for November, franchisee Manny Reyes said in an interview.

A second location under this license will open in Miami in January, while plans for Puerto Rico call for opening between five and 10 more restaurants over the next six years, he said.

“Nacionsushi arrives with the commitment to serve as an engine of growth on the island to strengthen both the local economy and the hospitality industry,” said Reyes, who has more than 25 years of experience in the production and entertainment industries both stateside and in Puerto Rico.

“Through our expansion plans, we will continue to contribute to employment, creating memorable experiences while offering a unique culinary proposal,” he said, adding that he learned of the concept during a trip to Panama in 2021, and spent the better part of the last two years negotiating the terms of his agreement with the chain’s owners.

“This concept breaks with the scheme of what everybody sells today, and I come from the field of creating experiences. When I saw this restaurant, I was surprised by all of it, from the person who greeted me, to the decor, which transports you to each of the places featured in the menu, its vibrant colors, and that piqued my interest,” he said, adding that the menu includes dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and China.

The opening is expected to create more than 60 direct jobs, with positions available for sushi makers, cooks, bartenders, cashiers, dishwashers, runners and hostesses, additionally generating more than 200 indirect jobs. Interested applicants can email resumes or submit them through the restaurant’s website.

Nacionsushi offers a departure from traditional Asian restaurants, which often feature minimalist decor and a sober atmosphere. 

As part of this immersive experience, the restaurant recreates six distinct spaces, each of which is designed with sounds and colors to transport patrons to different regions of Southeast Asia, including Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

Beyond Panama, Nacionsushi has 48 locations in countries including Costa Rica, Spain, Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and El Salvador. The chain is looking to expand into Venezuela, Honduras and the U.S. mainland this year, according to its website.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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