There's a new fast food chain coming to the US from abroad. Called Leon, it's already been quite successful in the UK with its "naturally fast food," and is hoping that their disruptive model makes a splash across the pond.
Leon, which opens its first US location this summer in Washington D.C., aims to bridge the gap between quick-service food and good food. They do it with a menu that's more extensive than Taco Bell's, but with the freshness and quality of Panera Bread's ingredients. The dishes also come from all over the world, ranging from the popular grilled halloumi wrap to Brazilian black beans, satay chicken, and a Korean Chicken Burger with gochujang mayo slaw. For breakfast, options include a classic full English, porridge with almond butter and berry compote, or even savory muffins imbued with halloumi and smashed avocado.
All of this is accomplished at a price point cheaper than that of your standard fast casual chain. CEO John Vincent told Nation's Restaurant News that he estimates the average paycheck to be just "10-15% more than McDonald's." There's strong proof to his words, as in the UK, the most expensive item on the menu (Moroccan Meatballs) is just over 9 US Dollars.
Not only is Leon's food cheap, but it's also local and nutritious. Fresh ingredients are the mantra for the UK-based chain, meaning they're sourcing from nearby places to keep the quality at an optimum. Dishes are also designed with health in mind, with kids' dishes meeting the standards set by the voluntary Children's Food Trust Guidelines of the UK.
The menus are also marked with several indicators for those on different diets. There's your standards, like vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, but it also has symbols for things you wouldn't expect, like if a dish has a low glycemic index or is great for your gut health.
With all of these attributes and features, Leon can definitely resonate with US consumers. They have food available for people of any diet, incorporate tasty options from across the globe, and do it all while paying attention to nutrition, sourcing, and a reasonable price point.
Name one major fast food chain that can do all of that.
It'll be interesting to see how the UK chain performs as it makes its debut in the US. Washington, D.C. will get the first installment later this summer. From there, Vincent will be keeping an eye on its performance to see what to change to mirror the tastes of the US better as he looks to future expansion.