London & South East

Leon makes its mark

Leon restaurants

Founded by Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent in 2004, Leon is a healthy alternative to the usual fast food which saturates the market.

Serving up a vast selection of nutritious dishes, Leon caters from breakfast through to dinner, and pretty much any excuse for a nibble in between.

Dishes on offer at Leon include the inspirational Porridge of the Gods; the far too tempting Magic Mackerel Salad; and the always enjoyable Thai Green Chicken Curry. Drinks are equally as enjoyable and include Goji Berry & Passion Fruit Juicy Water; Lemon, Lime and Ginger Quencher and the uplifting Banana Power Smoothie!

For those who want to indulge just a little, Leon does offer up a number of sweet puddings, but fear not, these treats are healthy alternatives to classic dishes. The appropriately titled Better Brownie includes dark chocolate, ground almonds, a few chopped walnuts and just a bit of orange oil, making it a delicious, yet not so guilty pleasure.

Leon restaurants

With almost ten years in the fast food sector, Leon continues to develop and grow as a brand, with new sites popping up in key locations throughout the nation’s capital. Speaking to Premier Hospitality about the brand’s development, Leon Finance Director, Matt Jones, said:

“Founders Henry and John came up with the concept for Leon Restaurants as the result of numerous business trips up and down the country which resulted in them having to pick up less than desirable fast food.

“Fed up of boring sandwiches and endless fried chicken, Henry and John saw a need for healthy, yet equally convenient food and Leon was born. The first site launched in 2004 and within a year Leon number two was open.”

Matt added:

“Leon is all about healthy fast food; hot and cold, freshly prepared, using natural ingredients, all served in a fast food environment. We celebrate our tenth anniversary next year and offer our customers an array of delicious and healthy meals, with three main product ranges: salads, wraps and rice boxes.

Leon restaurants

“We have 12 sites at present, ten of which we own and operate, with the other two sites – King’s Cross and Heathrow Terminal 3 – operated by a franchisee. Leon Restaurants are predominantly situated in central London, with additional sites in Bluewater and Brent Cross Shopping Centre.”

The first Leon opened in Carnaby Street and was quickly named the Observer Food Awards Best New Restaurant in Great Britain. The 1200 sq ft café picked up the award a year after the prestigious Wolseley was acknowledged in the same category, which demonstrated a strong opening for the brand.

Matt said:

“Due to the fresh ingredients that we use our clientele tends to be the lunch time crowd, so we are very strong within office locations. However Leon is for people looking for something which is flavourful and relatively good for them. We have a couple of items on the menu which allow customers to indulge a little, but on the whole we want to provide healthier alternatives.

“Our menu includes many traditional dishes which will always be available, but we also look at what our competitors are doing so that we can offer a healthy alternative. We are just about to launch a chicken burger, which is set to become the healthiest chicken burger on the market. It features olive oil mayonnaise and is delicious.”

Leon restaurants

The most recent site for Leon is at More London Place and is situated in a large office development. The one-storey, ground floor unit is set to open in early November and like with all Leon sites it is conveniently located to make the most of its surroundings.

Matt commented:

“Location is always important to us, especially as more than half of our weekly sales come from our weekday lunch menu. We have a very compelling breakfast offering which is extremely popular and we as we are licensed and stay open into the evening, we are more than happy to accommodate guests eating out at the end of the day.

“We appreciate that we need to be in a convenient location so that our customers can come to us and we have recently conducted research into our regular customer base so that we really get to know who is coming through our doors.”

Shone is the main contractor on Leon More London Place, whilst Fusion DNA is the architectural practice on the project.

Prior to opening as the latest Leon restaurant, the site housed a Bagel Street venue, which has been given a complete overhaul. Walls and floors have been stripped back and an internal fit-out is taking place.

With Leon continuing to make a name for itself the brand is set to make another strong move forward as its tenth year approaches, with the opening of additional restaurants.

Leon restaurants

Matt said:

“We have put a great deal of work into looking at what does and doesn’t work at Leon; in terms of both the menu and the site selection process. We are planning to open three more sites before the end of the year and at least another three next year.

“Every site takes a little bit of time to establish itself, but our intention is always to put the correct infrastructure in place so that it can become profitable from day one.”

Matt added:

“We are still a relatively small business. We are very well known where we are established, but we are aware that we are less well known where we don’t have sites. Every location we open helps to extend the awareness of the brand and this is something which we aim to develop even further.”

For more information about Leon Restaurants, please visit:

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