Noodle bar chain to be dished up in city

Popular noodle bar chain Wagamama is set to open its first restaurant in the Capital.

The firm has an agreement with Lloyds Banking Group to take over the former Bank of Scotland branch at the junction of Castle Terrace and Lothian Road, provided it can secure planning permission to change the unit into a restaurant.

Wagamama opened its first restaurant in the Lothians at The Elements shopping centre in Livingston around 18 months ago and also has two restaurants in Glasgow and one in Aberdeen.

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There has been a Facebook campaign to bring the pan-Asian chain to Edinburgh for the last three years. It currently has more than 200 members.

Nicola Cunningham, 30, a communications developer from Broughton, was the founder of the campaign.

She said: "A friend and I used to go to Wagamama in Glasgow and when I moved back to Edinburgh she said she was looking forward to more Wagamama dates over here.

"I told her that was impossible as there weren't any Wagamamas in Edinburgh, so as a joke we started the Campaign For Wagamama in Edinburgh page about three years ago on Facebook.

"We picked up 100 members very quickly and we're now up to about 230 so there will be a lot of happy people."

The chain had been lined up to open its first branch close to the cancelled Haymarket hotel development at the Morrison Street goods yard.

Plans for a 17-storey hotel were rejected and a smaller development featuring an eight-storey hotel and four office buildings is being considered.

The former Bank of Scotland branch on Lothian Road is the third in the city centre currently being converted into a leisure establishment.

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Gary Still, owner of Whiski on the Royal Mile, is turning a section of a redundant Bank of Scotland branch and the Just Scottish gift store on North Bank Street into a "try before you buy" whisky store.

Antonio Crolla, owner of Dario's on Lothian Road and Bar Napoli on Hanover Street, also plans to turn the former Bank of Scotland on Chambers Street into a restaurant.

A spokesman for Wagamama said: "Wagamama would love to open in many UK towns and cities and are constantly on the search for the best locations."