American-theme restaurant concepts—especially barbecues and smokehouses, burger bars and diners—are a major growth area in the UK restaurant scene, British researcher Horizons report. The onslaught is so great, in fact, that they may overtake Mexican concepts as the major growth channel.
“American casual dining certainly isn’t new to the UK but we are seeing a steady resurgence in its popularity as operators have modernized and upgraded the concept,” said Horizons analyst Nicola Knight.
Horizons’ biannual Ones to Watch report on new and emerging brands (with between five and 25 units, and growth of at least 20% over the previous three years), includes several of these very-American concepts. Even more are in included in Horizons’ Bubbling Under list of concepts with less than five locations.
These American grill concepts are “opening across the UK on high streets in affluent market towns and secondary cities, many in converted pub premises, which offer the size, location and parking facilities that suit these all-day diners,” Horizons reports.
Actually, Dunkin’ Donuts is second fastest growing Ones to Watch brand in terms of site expansion (having gone from no presence to 20 units since 2013), while Steakhouse Bar & Grill is tied for No. 7 (from 0 to 13 units) and Coast to Coast American Restaurant & Bar ties for No. 9.
Ones to Watch brands ranked by percentage growth in units sees Dunkin’ donuts on top. Reds True Barbecue, Grillstock Smokehouse and Toros Steakhouse also make the top 10. Other up-and-coming concepts include Dirty Burger, Burger Shack & Bar and Bukowski Grill. Horizons says its Bubbling Under list now includes nearly 70 concepts featuring American-style dining or burger menus. It notes that U.S. burger chain Smashburger is preparing to enter the UK, while Fatburger and Shake Shack have announced expansion plans there.
The growth of Mexican concepts, so rapid in the past several years, “now seems to have reached a point of consolidation whereby the main players continue to expand but fewer new operators are emerging,” Horizons reports.
McDonald’s Gilroy Garlic Fries have sold out. The chain’s Greater Bay Area co-op announced that the test item—sold at just four locations—proved so popular that it is out of product. A resumption is promised in a few weeks, when the chain might make good on its promise of expanding availability to 250 area units if the item was a hit.