UK-based fast food chain Leon is set to open in Ireland in 2019, with the first two outlets confirmed as a central Dublin location and a prime unit in Dundrum Town Centre.
The multiple award winning chain has nearly 60 restaurants around the UK plus new openings in Utrecht, Amsterdam, Oslo and most recently its first US offering, in Washington D.C. Waterford accountant Stuart Fitzgerald and his business partner Brian McIntyre have taken on the franchise in Ireland and intend to open 20 new restaurants nationwide by 2023.
Leon is led by co-founder and CEO John Vincent and is backed by two principal investors including Brazil-based GP Investments, a global private equity fund, and London-based Active Private Equity. In 2017, GP Investments’ subsidiary, Spice Private Equity, invested in Leon to fund its growth in Europe and the US. The company has also produced a number of cookbooks and teamed up with UK retailer John Lewis to launch a cookware range.
Leon’s menu focuses on healthy ingredients and includes an emphasis on plants, fresh herbs, spices, good fats from olive oil, seeds, nuts and well sourced meat.
The majority of packaging and straws at Leon are compostable, minimising the carbon footprint and limiting the amount of natural capital required to operate the business. Leon is also a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association in the UK and holds its top three star rating, and won Raymond Blanc’s Sustainability Hero Award at the Association’s Food Made Good awards last year.
The Dundrum outlet will form part of a wider development that will reposition existing retail units to create four new restaurants and additional leisure space. The new restaurants will sit alongside Harvey Nichols, the existing restaurants and outside dining terrace. Fallon & Byrne is also set to open a new flagship food hall, delicatessen and restaurant in Pembroke Square. Other recent additions to the centre include Rituals, The Couture Club and Folkster.
Stuart Fitzgerald said: “The Leon concept is completely new in Ireland. Irish people have certain ideas of what fast food means, but this is going to blow those out of the water. Leon is all about really flavoursome food, served to you fast with friendly, fun service in a warm and welcoming environment. And we are delighted to have already secured an outlet in Dundrum Town Centre in the Upper Pembroke District – an iconic location and a perfect fit for our brand experience.”
For breakfast, Leon’s menu includes smashed avocado and halloumi muffin; blueberry, honey and toasted seeds porridge; and a beans egg pot. Lunch options include a Lebanese mezze salad; Korean chicken burger; and a vegan sweet potato falafel hot box.