Byron is among a long list of small and mid-size restaurant chains having a difficult time of it. In 2017, four under-performing branches were closed. In October last year, Eater reported company bosses had met to discuss a strategic review of the business. Two months later, it looked as if the company may sell for a heavily discounted price. And in January this year, 20 more of the chain’s previously 69-site business faced closure.
Now, in April 2018, there’s no update on a sale or on any further branch closures. Byron does have news, though: Its restaurants have a new menu, pegged to a new burger.
It’s called the “Classic Flex.”
Dubbed the “UK’s first ever flexitarian burger,” it is simple in design: 70% British grass-fed beef, and 30% sautéed mushrooms. A 2018 blend. A Byron spokesman told Eater the company is giving customers what they want. The patty (is it still a patty?), is topped with lettuce, red onion, tomato, and mayonnaise, and is served in a squishy bun with a “cheeky pickle” on the side.
It’s been created to cater for “changing lifestyles and to appeal to people who identify as flexitarian” — some 22 million, according to recent research, the spokesman added.
A second burger, called the “Reflex,” which “contains a more decadent line up of toppings,” will launch simulataneously. The Reflex is made with red pepper ketchup, tomato, red onion, baby kale, roasted garlic, and rosemary mayonnaise.
Byron’s head of food, Paul Mason, said: “We’re thrilled to offer burger fans the opportunity to try something that is truly innovative and that isn’t available at other restaurants in the UK.
“These burgers are just one of many new products that we’re launching across the UK to offer proper burger diversity. Whether you’re a meat-lover, veggie, vegan or simply having a meat-free Monday, you’ll find yourself at home in a Byron.”
Although that might seem like a bit of a stretch (and a faintly desperate plea), it is true that flexitarianism is on the rise in Britain. Around a third of the population has reduced its meat intake in recent years, instead opting for a diet high in vegetables, with a greater focus on consuming higher welfare meat for a more sustainable approach. Alternative protein sources are strengthening and demand is high.
Will the “Classic Flex” help Byron see gains? Let’s see.