They may have hundreds of branches in the UK and indeed thousands across the world but when and where did some of the high streets most successful food offers first begin their trade in the UK?
KFC were the first modern US fast food operator to enter the UK when the Colonel signed a lease on a restaurant in Preston in 1965. Pizza Hut followed 8 years later opening in Islington, North London.
McDonalds opened in Woolwich in 1974 (amazingly their 3,000th outlet worldwide) but they were not the first burger bar in the UK, that crown went to UK owned Wimpy who opened on Coventry Street, London in 1954. This restaurant was also the first UK Burger King when it was converted in 1988 following the acquisition of the burger bar chain by Grand Metropolitan (now Diageo), Wimpy’s then owners.
Subway, the submarine sandwich store operator, entered the UK market in 1996 when they took their first shop in Brighton, growing quickly to over 1,400 today, riding on the wave of the public’s desire for healthy eating.
Casual Dining Restaurants
Pizza Express is the oldest of the established casual dining restaurants in the UK having opened their first restaurant in 1965 on Wardour Street, Soho, London. The inspiration for the restaurant were trips to Italy and Germany where Peter Boizot witnessed pizzaiolos tossing dough in to the air whilst opera, classical and jazz music all played in the background on a jukebox.
Nando’s and Wagamama both opened in the UK in 1992. Nando’s favoured West London opening in Ealing whilst Wagamama opted for the hustle and bustle of Central London opening on Gower Street, Bloomsbury.
Nando’s began in 1987 in South Africa when Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte bought a restaurant called Chickenland in Rosettenville, southern Johannesburg.
Wagamama was the brainchild of Alan Yau who has gone on to found other operations including Busaba Eathai, Hakkasan and Cha Cha Moon.
Carluccio’s was the natural progression of chef Antonio Carluccio’s existing business, an Italian food shop and his flair in the kitchen. The first Carluccio’s Caffe opened in Market Place, Noho, London in 1999.
Zizzi opened their first premises in Chiswick in 1999 and is part of the successful Gondola Group.
The casual dining market is expanding rapidly with new and exciting operators opening across the UK. This is testament to the public’s increasing desire to experiment and taste new foods from around the world. Wahaca (Mexican) and Ceena (Korean) have both entered the London market recently. I am particularly excited about our retained client Zayti who offer modern food with an Eastern accent - the first restaurant opening in 2011 – will keep you posted!