Midlands & East Anglia

The secret’s out


Launched in Norfolk in 1976 and owned and operated by holiday and leisure group Blue Sky Leisure, Zaks is an American style restaurant, inspired by cuisine from the good ol’ U S of A. To date, Zaks has three restaurants – Zaks Waterside Grill & Bar, Zaks Mousehold Diner and Zaks Poringland Diner – and is known locally as Norwich’s best kept secret.

With all three sites firmly established and continuing to prove extremely popular, Zaks is currently looking to expand through a number of franchise opportunities. Over the next five years Zaks will introduce between 15 and 30 new restaurants, meaning this little slice of American dining will be a secret no more.

Discussing the brand, CEO of Blue Sky Leisure and Zaks (UK) Ltd, Ian Hacon, said:

“Zaks was formed in 1976 by a local musician who had previously visited the United States where he sampled some really great American products. He had seen something very similar to Zaks in San Francisco, so when he returned he bought a van and started selling food to the public. This was quickly followed by his first restaurant in Great Yarmouth and then a second site shortly after. More recently Blue Sky Leisure acquired the sites and in 2005 we opened a third restaurant in Poringland.”


Zaks Chief Operating Officer, Chris Carr, added:

“Our burger recipe is what attracts customers to Zaks. It is the same recipe that kick started the brand back in the 1970s and is 100% beef – there is no fill in our burgers!

“The burger company which produces our product was started alongside Zaks and it continues to this day. 80% of our main core sales come from our burger, which can be ordered in 20 different ways and all inspired by the different States of America.”

Painted in flamingo pink, Zaks Waterside Grill & Bar is a striking restaurant which highlights Zaks interesting heritage. Featuring a spacious interior, with a mix of booth seating and tables as well as an external seating area, Zaks Waterside Grill & Bar serves up the perfect slice of American dining.

The second Norwich-based restaurant is Zaks Mousehold Diner at Mousehold Heath and has been a popular destination for years. Split across two floors, the restaurant is the perfect place for a party and serves up a far too tempting array of belly bursting burgers. The third site is Zaks Poringland Diner, which is decked out in recognisable pieces of Americana, whilst classic musical tracks from the 1950s, ‘60s and beyond plays out.


The menu at Zaks is extensive and serves up a mouth watering selection of tasty treats, from litebites such as smothered fries, through to something more substantial, including the Extreme Surf Grill Combo! Zaks also offers a selection of house specials and salads, as well as a great collection of desserts, including the Cookie Dough Collision Cheesecake.

Ninety 9 Design is one of the designers working on Zaks. Commenting on the design of the restaurants, Interior Designer, Nigel Webb, said:

“Zaks is not a themed restaurant; we ship a great deal of our stock and memorabilia in from America, from a 1940s Coca Cola machine through to original gas pumps.

“We also let our buildings speak to us, so that although our three locations share similarities, they are very different. We want people to walk into the restaurant and know that it is a Zaks from the menu, but at the same time it needs its own personality.”

Nigel added:

“We are a local company that has worked with Zaks for many years, which has allowed us to grow with the brand. We are proud to be a part of Zaks’ success.”


In July 2013, Zaks announced plans to extend its reach across the country through the launch of a franchise scheme. The plan will see up to 30 diners open within the next five years, pushing the locally known brand across the nation.

Having invested heavily in the franchising opportunity, the Zaks team are making sure franchisees are dedicated to the brand by enlisting them on an intensive, tailored training course. The Zaks Academy will take place at the Zaks head office near Norwich and will last for several weeks, covering business management, marketing, stock control and one-to-one training.

The Zaks package will comprise a 10 year renewable licence; guidance with site location; advice on the design and fit out; a panel of high quality suppliers; comprehensive start up training; and a co-ordinated launch campaign. In addition, the package also gives franchisees the relevant point of sale material; a dedicated web page; access to regular on-going training; business management support; access to the full range of Zaks documentation; and a full set of operational manuals.

Ian said:

“We have a winning formula of a great brand with a great team supporting it and this gives us a real opportunity to succeed in the franchising world. The key to success in any franchise is support and in this respect we have this in abundance. If we are going to introduce a new member to the Zaks family, it has to be right for us and for them, which is why we have chosen a very hands-on approach for selecting our candidates.”

For more information on Zaks, please visit: www.zaks.uk.com.


Grace Contracts Limited

Established in 1987 Grace Contracts Limited specialise in commercial refurbishment and maintenance work for public houses, restaurants, offices and universities. In addition, the company is a premier installer of altro hygienic wall & ceiling cladding.

Grace Contracts Limited started working with Blue Sky Leisure in 2005 after carrying out some wall cladding at one of the company’s holiday parks. The successful completion of this operation led to Grace Contracts Limited undertaking the complete refurbishment and extension of Zaks Poringland, Norwich.

Grace Contracts Limited has spent the last 8 years working with Blue Sky Leisure on new projects and maintenance work. Commenting on the company’s future involvement with Blue Sky Leisure, Chris Broome of Grace Contracts Limited, said:

“We look forward to being Blue Sky Leisure’s preferred building contractor in their new venture of Zaks Franchising.”

Chris added:

“At Grace Contracts Limited we pride ourselves in delivering workmanship of a high standard; we are flexible and we finish projects on time and in budget.”

Paul Robinson Partnership

Paul Robinson Partnership is an architectural practice, specialising in the provision of a full architectural service from inception through to completion. The consultancy started life 40 years ago and at present operates with a qualified team of architectural consultants/designers, building surveyors, technicians, interior designers, landscape architect, commercial energy assessors, CDM co-ordinator, quantity surveyor, party wall surveyor and support staff.

Paul Robinson Partnership has worked with Zaks (UK) Ltd and their parent companies; Timewell Properties Ltd and Blue Sky Leisure for a number of years, working on a wide scope of projects, including, new build and refurbishment, service developments, interiors, conservation, restaurants, housing and holiday parks, to name a few.  In addition, the consultancy has a varied client base, including well known operators, in the leisure, commercial, retail and industrial sectors.

Paul Robinson Partnership Associate, Andrew Smith, said:

My involvement includes a wide range of projects for the Timewell group of companies. My services normally will involve the initial up front architectural schematics and design through to planning and technical drawings and full services on site. I am also involved with conservation projects, listed buildings and heritage statements. I have been fully involved as lead consultant with all Zaks projects incorporating all the above.”

Andrew added:

We very much value Zaks as a client and always look forward to new project briefs. Given the inspiring nature of Zaks’ background, we know that each project will be very individual, exciting and inspiring to work on, in architectural and design terms but also working alongside the dynamic and forward thinking Zaks team.

At Paul Robinson Partnership, we pride ourselves on our complete, efficient, experienced, cost realistic and professional service, where we can bring our expertise together, tailored to the clients’ personal requirements. We have a wide range of talented staff who are conscientious, embodying the core ethics the practice has. This we feel is provided in a professional and friendly way, but always proportional to the client’s needs.”


Broadland Catering Equipment Ltd

Broadland Catering Equipment Ltd is a commercial catering equipment distributor, specialising in supplying and maintaining heavy cooking equipment, catering gas systems, warewashing machines and serveries. The company has been in operation since 1976, working with a broad range of clients, from hotels, bars and restaurants to care homes, schools, colleges and village halls.

Over the course of the last 37 years, Broadland Catering Equipment has worked on many high profile projects, with recent works including a theatre kitchen at Imagine Spa in Blofield Heath, a servery upgrade at the famous Langley School in Norfolk and a production kitchen for the Norfolk charity “About with Friends”. Broadland Catering Equipment were delighted to win the service contract for Blue Sky Leisure, which includes Zaks, and sees the company look after all their kitchens.

Broadland Catering Equipment Ltd Director, Colin Chettleburgh, said:

“At Broadland Catering Equipment, we have invested a lot of time and money to provide a comprehensive and reliable support and advice service for all our customers. We are therefore doubly proud to have developed such a good working relationship with a high profile client such as Blue Sky Leisure.

“A catering kitchen, as well as being the creative heart of a dining operation, is a fairly complex mix of building engineering services. I believe at the core of our relationship with Blue Sky Leisure is our willingness to advise on and deal with those complexities, leaving our customers to do what they do best – make great food!”


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