Back in the day, it was way more successful and current than McDonalds and, now, it looks as though Wimpy is coming back, Back, BACK! The brand was transplanted from Chicago in the 1950s, then took on new life in the UK as the futuristic spawn of Lyons Corner Houses, becoming bigger than flares until McDonalds sank onto the market with its full weight at the end of the 1970s. The clown and the arches pretty much killed Wimpy. Could the rumoured ongoing investment and expansion see the UK’s first hamburger chain return to prime high street sites all over the UK?
Now headquartered in South Africa, where the brand is quite a goer, Wimpy is seen as very much British by the over-40s who remember it. It was effectively British-owned during its early Seventies heyday, when it had more than 500 sites around the country. Perhaps the nostalgia demographic is part of a strategy for finding space in a very crowded marketplace — between the behemoth brands, trendier chains such as Shake Shack, Five Guys, and the US newcomers Fatburger and Smashburger. Existing Brit burger chains are currently wobbling all over the place, so Wimpy had better get tough. Apparently there’ll be a news reveal in spring next year. But before getting too excited, remember: in Clacton-on-Sea (in Essex) and Porthcawl (in Wales), Wimpy never went away.
An on those other newcomers: California’s global oldie Fatburger has announced that it’s opening 15 new outlets in the UK (they currently have a site in Camden), co-branding with Buffalo’s Express, MCA report. While comparatively youthful Smashburger, founded in 2007 in Denver, Colorado, has plans to launch 35 restaurants here, too, say Big Hopitality. Even Wendy’s is eyeing up a return to the avid English market.
Avid for novel concepts, perhaps. It was also reported by MCA today that Gourmet Burger Kitchen “has cut its openings pipeline for the rest of the year” due to “disappointing sales at some new openings.” While in July, the Handmade Burger Co. was sold out of administration.
That’s a lot of burger news for one day. If the saturated saturated-fat market causes queasiness, try “clean eating” in Mayfair: “The UK’s leading personal trainer” Matt Roberts will open Daily Dose on Berkeley Street, say Hot Dinners, serving protein shakes, cold-pressed juices, protein balls and “cleansing boxes” from 6 November.
But remember — burger come, burger go, 10 remain to try in London.