A conveyor-belt sushi restaurant chain has resorted to selling burger steaks in a bid to lure in more families and fight off the competition.

About 400 outlets of Revolving Sushi Bar Kurasushi are being given something of an Italian makeover from March 16.

Kura Corp, the operator, said March 13 that the sushi bars will offer tomato-seasoned Italian cheese hamburger steak for 250 yen ($2.35), excluding tax, and their unique take on “Carbonara spaghetti" called "Carbonara sparatti” for 370 yen.

The latter features ramen noodles rather than spaghetti and comes in a seafood soup.

“The market size of family-friendly restaurants is double of that of conveyor-belt sushi restaurants,” said Makoto Tanaka, vice president of the Osaka-based company. “We would like those who usually go to family-friendly restaurants to go to our restaurants for our new menus.”

The company first offered food other than the usual sushi lineup in 2012, when they started selling ramen and curry rice. Currently, there are about 50 non-sushi items that account for about 35 percent of its total sales.

“We want our restaurants categorized as family-friendly restaurants with the centerpiece of sushi but with increasing the non-sushi menu even more,” explained a company official.

Sushiro Global Holdings Ltd., which operates Sushiro, the biggest conveyor-belt sushi restaurant chain, has also jumped aboard this growing bandwagon. It is looking to provide more expensive sweets. On March 14, it offered a limited-period-only parfait stacked with strawberries at 980 yen, excluding tax.

Hamasushi chain run by Zensho Holdings Co. and Kappa Sushi chain under Kappa Create Co. also sell ramen and "udon" noodles.

Fuji Keizai Co., a marketing research and consulting group, estimates that fast-sushi joints will rake in 640.4 billion yen in 2018, which is 1.5 times higher than that of eight years ago.

Outlets are opening all over the place, competition is fierce, fish, rice and manpower costs are soaring and it is getting increasingly difficult to keep a low price of 100 yen per plate.

Shusaku Ueda of Fuji Keizai said, “(Those sushi chains) are introducing numerous non-sushi food lineups because they intend to lower the costs and secure profits.”

(This article was written by Mana Takahashi and Ayumi Shintaku.)