Leon will bring its “healthy” fast food across the pond next week with a first restaurant in Washington DC, U.S.A. As reported by Eater, the brand will launch its first American restaurant in downtown Washington DC, with a view to opening 20 more restaurants in the area.
The opening was originally scheduled for August 20, with CEO John Vincent telling Eater DC that the brand’s American operations would hold true to the London model: not fast-casual, just fast, with customers “in and out in three minutes” for gut-friendly wraps, boxes, toasts, and many things with eggs. Managing director Glenn Edwards also told Eater DC that going global was “natural.”
Whether Leon considers it natural or not, this growth is taking place in the context of an increasingly fraught London market experiencing “market correction” and the symptoms of significant political changes: on the ground in London, local operators are squeezed while global imports with finance and fandom in reserve move in. Leon joins high-end steak group Hawksmoor, serial London restaurateur Jason Atherton, and speciality coffee chains Taylor Street Baristas and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs in heading across the Atlantic.
With “wildly successful” local companies like Sweet Green, Cava, & Pizza and Taylor Gourmet rubbing shoulders with a host of choices in Washington DC, what remains to be seen is how Leon will cope with the receiving end of a strong fast/fast-casual market: the kind of market that it helped pioneer in the U.K. No longer an early adopter, Leon will be a new kid on the block.