‘Gourmet’ German Doner Kebab chain plans to open FIVE Newcastle stores

June 15, 2019

A chain of ‘gourmet’ kebab houses founded in Berlin has revealed it plans to open five branches in Newcastle.

German Doner Kebab is one of the UK’s fastest growing food-on-the-go businesses, with 33 outlets opened in the past two-years.

It specialises in premium ‘gourmet kebabs’ which are ‘healthy and nutritionally balanced’.

 
Now, German Doner Kebab has revealed it plans to open five branches in Newcastle, with the first one set to start serving in 2020.

The business is searching for properties and is in discussion with landlords, a spokesperson told ChronicleLive.

German Doner Kebab launched in Berlin in 1989. It says the business places an emphasis on quality ingredients, with beef and chicken fillets imported from Germany – where doner kebabs are hugely popular thanks in part to the country’s huge Turkish population – combined with local vegetables, which are prepared daily along with ‘Doner Kebab’ bread.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

German Doner Kebab says its methods are ‘totally different’ to those used by other kebab houses.

“The result is a nutritionally sound gourmet food experience that contains virtually no preservatives or additives and can be consumed day or night,” the business says.

Weekly sales total £1m, with branches in cities including Birmingham, London, Glasgow and Cardiff, as well as Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

A Doner from German Doner Kebab, Moseley, Birmingham
A Doner from German Doner Kebab, Moseley, Birmingham

GDK CEO Imran Sayeed said:  “We are excited to be announcing major expansion plans for the UK as we bring the GDK fast casual experience to even more consumers throughout the country.

“Our idea of bringing a gourmet kebab that is healthy and nutritionally balanced has been a massive hit with UK consumers, and this has been reflected in the huge growth we have already achieved in the past two years.

“Our new upcoming outlets will give us further key strategic locations to reach even more consumers whilst also creating significant job opportunities.

Related: German Doner Kebab Franchise

He added: “We have developed a strong growth pipeline with some of the UK’s most established franchise entrepreneurs and our focus will be to work closely with them to identify new sites and respond to the growing consumer demand across the UK.”

By Simon Meechan

Source: Chronicle Live

Iceland says it’s well placed for online growth in the decade to come

June 14, 2019

Iceland says it has a solid foundation for online growth over the next five to 10 years following the launch of its new ecommerce website.

The website was launched in March and, says Iceland, it has already seen average order values and mobile sales rise following the introduction of new features including the ability to add to a basket without booking a delivery slot, to shop directly from search, and to pay using a range of options. In addition, it says, the mobile experience has been “significantly improved”, helping to retain the title of the UK’s fastest-growing online grocer.

 
This summer it will launch live order updates, with a 30 minute delivery window, via text. In a trial, it said, customer response had been “overwhelmingly positive” and had reduced customer enquiries to its contact centre. The retailer already picks from its Iceland stores to deliver online orders to the home. Now it has expanded that approach to its The Food Warehouse stores.

The update came as Iceland today reported a 4.5% rise in full-year sales to £3.1bn, and said that its online business was achieving “market-leading growth”.

Over the year to March 29, the supermarket said that earnings before interest, tax and asset writ downs had fallen by £13m to £140.1m. It said that fall was entirely seen in the first half of the year, while the second had proved more stable.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Sales growth was driven by store openings – the retailer, ranked Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, opened a net 43 stores during the year. Its The Food Warehouse chain had 90 stores by the end of the year, up from 57 a year earlier. So far this year it has opened 14, seven each for Iceland and The Food Warehouse, and plans to open 50 in total over the full-year, while also refitting existing stores. In addition, it is now selling its food from nine stores owned by The Range.

Over the last year the supermarket has become known for its commitment to sustainability. It has removed palm oil from its own-label food, and addressed the issue head on in its Rang-Tan animation that became, says Iceland, the most viewed Christmas commercial of all time. The supermarket was banned from using the advert on television over Christmas because it was deemed too political, but it gained high levels of attention online and went viral on social media, with more than 80m views.

Iceland has also pledged to remove plastic from its own brand ranges by 2023. During 2018 alone, it said, it had removed 1,500 tonnes.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Iceland chief executive Tarsem Dhaliwal said: “Within an intensely competitive UK marketplace, adversely affected by consumer uncertainty and the well-known pressures of changing shopping habits on the high street, we have continued to focus on investing for the future: expanding our store footprint, enhancing the appeal of our existing stores, growing our award-winning online business, continuing to roll out new and exciting food lines that are unique to Iceland, developing our supply chain to support the growth of our retail estate, and finding new channels to sell our food through The Range in the UK and a growing global franchise and export business.

“Our sustainability initiatives over the last year have substantially raised public awareness of Iceland and enhanced respect for our brand and its values, and we are confident that this can only enhance our prospects in the longer-term.”

The retailer has also built its business through an international and export-based approach. It now has 26 stores in Ireland, and seven in the Czech Republic. It exports Iceland own-label products to more than 40 countries, including to its own franchise stores in Europe, and has partnered with JD.com to sell them in China.

Related: Iceland Franchise

It said that prolonged Brexit uncertainty had dampened consumer confidence but that it will confident it would trade successfully through any likes future scenario.

By Chloe Rigby

Source: Internet Retailing

Popular US burger chain Five Guys to expand internationally – with Australia rumoured to be next

June 12, 2019
  • Five Guys has announced its official plans to open an outlet in Singapore
  • The US franchise will further expand in Asia between October and December
  • The burger brand will be brought in by the Zouk Group as part of expansion plans

Popular US burger chain Five Guys has announced it will further expand internationally, with official plans to open an outlet in Singapore.

Famous for its made-to-order burgers with 15 free toppings to choose from, the American franchise is set to roll out the new burger joint between October and December after opening its first Asia-Pacific outlet in Hong Kong last year.

Rumours are also swirling that the franchise will open in Australia.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

The cult burger brand will be brought in to Singapore by the Zouk Group as part of expansion plans.

‘Today, the Zouk Group takes its first big step towards diversifying our F&B offerings as we welcome Five Guys to Singapore,’ CEO of Zouk Group Andrew Li said in a statement.

‘We have been very cautious when it comes to curating our lifestyle portfolio, in the sense that the brands we take on must share a similar synergy with the Zouk brand.

‘Five Guys, quite simply, ticks all the boxes – customer-centric, true to its vision and a commitment to providing only the best.’

President and CEO of Five Guys International said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Zouk Group as we continue the Five Guys expansion in Asia-Pacific.’

It’s not known whether the American chain will head Down Under – but foodies have long been rallying to bring the outlet to Australia.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Five Guys for comment.

Five Guys is just one of many US burger chains with a cult following in Australia.

The popular American franchise will begin to roll out the burger joint between October and December after opening its first Asia-Pacific outlet in Hong Kong last year

The popular American franchise will begin to roll out the burger joint between October and December after opening its first Asia-Pacific outlet in Hong Kong last year.

In recent years, In-N-Out Burger has been teasing foodies with its one day pop up stalls around Sydney.

But in 2016, the popular American fast food giant confirmed it will never open a permanent outlet Down Under.

Related: Five Guys Franchise

‘We do these pop-ups in various countries to get our name out there and familiarise people with the brand so they know about us when they visit the US,’ an In-N-Out Burger spokeswoman previously told Nine News.

‘This pop up is no indication that we are going to open a store in Australia. We are a family owned business and we only operate in six (US) states right now and all the produce we use needs to be delivered fresh from our distributors.

‘We have been approached by other areas regarding franchises but it’s just not something we would do.’

By CINDY TRAN FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA

Source: Daily Mail

Opening date for German Doner Kebab in Preston confirmed

June 7, 2019

German Doner Kebab (GDK) is throwing open the doors to its Preston store this month, the company confirms.

As it embarks on major growth plans for the UK, GDK has announced its Preston store – located on Ring Way underneath the Premier Inn – is set to open on Monday, June, 24.

With 33 outlets opened during the past two years in the UK, German Doner Kebab announced plans for its Preston store in March – one of 14 set to open by the end of this year.

The expansion will see a total investment of over £6m and will create in the region of 200 jobs.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

German Doner Kebab is part of the Hero Brands group and has a growth pipeline of 350 sold units in place over the next seven years.

German Doner Kebab opening in Preston under the Premier Inn

GDK CEO Imran Sayeed said: “It’s incredible to be hitting £1m kebab sales a week as we announce further growth plans across the country.

“Our idea of bringing a gourmet kebab that is healthy and nutritionally balanced has been a massive hit with UK consumers, and this has been reflected in the huge growth we have already achieved in the past two years.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“Our new upcoming outlets will give us further key strategic locations to reach even more consumers whilst also creating significant job opportunities.

“We have developed a strong growth pipeline with some of the UK’s most established franchise entrepreneurs and our focus will be to work closely with them to identify new sites and respond to the growing consumer demand across the UK.”

German Doner Kebab currently operates stores in the UK, Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain.

The company has launched UK growth plans following its plans to expand into Saudi Arabia.

Related: German Doner Kebab Franchise

The Ajlan and Brothers Group has been signed-up as the master franchisee, with a development agreement of 100 stores over the next ten years.

German Doner Kebab is also open stores in Oldham, Bradford, Northampton, Walsall, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

By Olivia Baron

Source: LancsLive

Four Star Pizza celebrates 20 years in Northern Ireland

June 6, 2019

The Four Star Pizza chain is celebrating 20 years in Northern Ireland.

The first  outlet opened on Belfast’s Beersbridge Road in 1999 – there are now 14 stores across the region with locations in Bangor, Carrickfergus, Newry, Drumahoe, Derry, Armagh, Newtownabbey, Coleraine and, most recently, Lisburn which opened its doors in December last year.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Scott Higginson, Managing Director of the Beersbridge Road store, said: “I still can’t believe it’s been 20 years since we opened our first franchise in 1999 and it’s been amazing to watch how the company has grown since then.

“We were confident in those days that there was a gap in the Northern Ireland market for freshly made pizza which is one of the reasons why we were attracted to Four Star Pizza. Across our entire franchise network, our pizza dough is freshly prepared by hand on site daily by passionate and expertly trained pizza chefs, using top quality locally sourced flour.

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“I’d like to take the opportunity to commend all of the amazing staff who have worked with us these past 20 years, and who have made the company what it is today. ”

“Most importantly, I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of our customers across Northern Ireland for the phenomenal support they’ve given us – I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in the next 20 years!” added Scott.

Since 1999, it is estimated that Four Star Pizza has delivered more than 10 million pizzas to homes across Northern Ireland.

Related: Four Star Pizza Franchise

The Irish-owned pizza chain delivered a record year last year, with a 31% rise in online sales driving revenue growth of 8% for 2018. In that time the company also invested over £1 million into the brand, which saw the creation of more than 100 new jobs, and the opening of six new stores across the island of Ireland.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

Ooty opens casual concept in Birmingham

June 4, 2019

Ooty Station, the all-day café and bar concept from the team Indian fine-dining restaurant Ooty, has opened within Selfridges Birmingham as part of a franchise partnership.

It comes as founders Aseela Goenka and Pooja Nayak prepare to launch the inaugural (and flagship) Ooty Station site next door to their restaurant in London’s Marylebone later this month.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

However, despite the Birmingham opening, BigHospitality has been told there are currently no plans to roll the concept out further at this time.

Ooty Station Marylebone will be a sister site to the original Ooty restaurant, with a menu focused on ‘contemporary dishes inspired by south Indian street food classics’.

Head Chef Manmeet Singh-Bali has worked alongside sous chef Niru Palakonda to oversee the menu at both Ooty Station sites, which will feature ‘traditional British bar snacks with an Indian twist’.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Bar snacks will include Malli chicken wings and mutton methi samosa; while larger bar bowls will feature Keralan lamb stew served with coconut rice, and a koshimbir salad made with pearl barley, smoked cashew nut and puy lentils.

From the griddle diners will be able to choose from a selection of homemade dosas, with fillings that include garlic-tempered soya spinach, and lime and curry leaf lamb.

The café will have 40 covers inside, with further outdoor seating also available.

Related: Ooty Franchise

A colonial-style basement bar, called Ooty Club, also operates under the Marylebone restaurant.

By James McAllister

Source: Big Hospitality

The Domino Effect: Can This Pizza Giant Continue To Deliver Success?

June 3, 2019

With some reported sales figures as flat as its famous pizzas, Domino’s announced this month that its U.K orders have fallen (for the first quarter of this year like-for-like sales grew by 3.1%, but order volumes fell by 2.7%) and that for another year its international operations will remain loss-making.

This might be surprising news to many. Here in the U.K, the takeaway pizza market has been dominated by only 3 or 4 main players for more than a decade now, with Domino’s being one of the most well known and with branches on most suburban shopping streets across the U.K.

The first U.K Domino’s franchise branch opened in Luton in 1985 and the franchise network has seen a steady pattern of growth over the years, with just under 1,200 units now operating across the U.K

These recent figures will be another headache for Domino’s bosses, who are already facing a backlash from their U.K franchisees. Franchisees have become disgruntled at the franchisor’s decision to split geographical territories, resulting in new stores being less profitable. They are also face rising costs generally and as a result, franchisees have joined forces to demand an increased profit share. The Domino’s Franchise Association U.K and Ireland which represents around 90% of the UK franchisees, has stated that its members will not open any more U.K stores until the issues are resolved. And in a hugely public and embarrassing comedown, the pizza chain franchisor was forced to cancel its annual UK franchisee awards event last month when nearly all of the Domino’s UK franchise network said that they would boycott the event.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Chief executive David Wild said that the group is continuing an “open and ongoing dialogue” with its unhappy franchisees to look at ways in which to resolve the dispute without simply cutting the cost of the food supplied to stores, which of course would significantly affect overall group profits. He said: ‘We’re working with our franchisees to try and resolve their concerns, but we want to resolve their concerns by finding a win-win solution. We don’t want to resolve them by finding lose-win solutions.’

With all of this in-house turmoil to deal with, its not surprising that the pizza chain may be struggling to improve its numbers.

Dominos isn’t the only Italian casual dining chain here in the U.K to be feeling the heat. Whilst not a franchise, the Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant chain last week fell into administration with a loss of around 1000 jobs. Pizza chain Prezzo also announced last year a plan to close 100 restaurants U.K wide.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

These financial troubles must in part be due to the widely reported change in casual dining habits – British consumers who are feeling the financial pinch or are Brexit-nervous either choosing not to dine out or order in but to cook at home, or using their treat night outs to sample more diverse cuisine experiences now on offer on the High Street. Pizza is also now no longer the most popular takeaway cuisine in the U.K, in third place behind Chinese and Indian food. Domino’s also faces considerable competition from independent takeaway businesses with the introduction of meal delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

In light of all of the above, will Domino’s be able to weather the storm and remain at the top of the pizza game? It is trying to respond to customer demands, having recently introduced a new low calorie “Delight” range of pizzas, and rumor has it that a vegan pizza is in the offing. Whilst the dispute with U.K franchisees remains ongoing, Domino’s is focusing on perhaps happier overseas territories, installing a new management structure in Norway, Sweden and Switzerland where its operations have remained loss-making, and focusing on store level performance. Clearly lessons have been learned from experiences over here.

Related: Domino’s Pizza Franchise

What the Domino’s business journey to date shows us is that as a brand it is very self-aware. When customers criticized the very core of its business – its pizza recipe – it took the criticism on the chin and took the brave decision to completely scrap its existing offering and start from scratch again. They understand that their customers love them because of the convenience factor and have continued to use all technology available to improve convenience, speed and delivery for their loyal fans. So having demonstrated in the past that they are agile, customer focused and forward-thinking, there’s every reason to think that Dominos will be able to successfully navigate this particularly tricky chapter in its franchise story and continue to deliver pizza success right to our front doors.

By Fiona Simpson

Source: Forbes

German Doner Kebab to pursue ‘relentless UK growth’

June 2, 2019

Fast-casual chain German Doner Kebab is planning to open a new restaurant every two weeks between now and the end of the year.

The brand says it is now serving up more than £1m worth of kebabs every week across its 33 UK outlets, and is now set to open 14 further restaurants by the end of the year in regional locations including Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen as part of a ‘relentless UK growth’ plan.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

The group says the expansion will see a total investment of over £6m, and create in the region of 200 jobs.

Founded in Germany in 1989, German Doner Kebab launched in the UK in 2016 and has since opened in locations including London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

“Our idea of bringing a gourmet kebab that is healthy and nutritionally balanced has been a massive hit with UK consumers, and this has been reflected in the huge growth we have already achieved in the past two years,” says Imran Sayeed, the CEO of German Doner Kebab.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“We have developed a strong growth pipeline with some of the UK’s most established franchise entrepreneurs and our focus will be to work closely with them to identify new sites and respond to the growing consumer demand across the UK.”

The UK growth plans follows news that the brand is looking to expand into Saudi Arabia, with further growth also planned for North America.

Related: German Doner Kebab Franchise

As well as the UK, German Doner Kebab currently operates restaurants in Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain.

By James McAllister

Source: Big Hospitality

Wolf Italian Street Food chooses Nottingham as its next UK franchise location

June 2, 2019

Wolf Italian Street Food chain offering fresh, healthy Italian meals with a modern twist is set to open its next franchise on Market Street in Nottingham with help from Fraser Brown Solicitors.

Tapping into the nation’s love for authentic Italian cuisine and fast, high quality healthy food, Wolf Italian will open its new 55-seater venue on 29 May at 34 Market Street in the heart of the city centre, creating 12 new jobs for the city.

Serving up traditional, wholesome, street food style dishes fresh from the carts of Italy, Wolf Italian customers can expect a unique all-day dining concept.

The Nottingham franchise is the latest addition to Wolf’s seven existing UK sites in Chiswick, Wembley, Reading, Manchester and Leeds.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Fraser Brown Solicitors has been working with Wolf Italian since 2017, advising on the roll-out of its UK franchises. Supporting work has included preparation of franchise agreements, management agreements, side letters, advising on resales, property aspects, brand protection and associated legal aspects of operating a growing network of franchises in the UK.

Fiona Boswell, partner and head of franchising and commercial services and James Woodward, senior associate in commercial property at Fraser Brown Solicitors, advised on the Wolf Nottingham site on roll out of franchise documentation and secure the lease for Ehsan Shammasizadeh (the franchisee).

The venue will be based in the historic listed Market Street building spanning 1972 sq. ft across two storeys which was previously home to Graham Hill Menswear.

Tim Entwistle of Wolf Italian Street Food said: “With franchises all over the UK opened with the contract roll out assistance of Fraser Brown, moving to Nottingham felt like the next natural step for us and we’re thrilled to be opening our doors in the heart of this established city, bringing with us nutritious, healthy Italian cuisine to Nottingham’s already vibrant food and drink scene. Our new central, historic location is ideal with its high ceilings and large open spaces and we aim to recreate a chilled space for our customers to dwell in.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“Our food is inspired by our Italian chef who uses the finest, local produce aimed at people that want great tasting food that’s also good for them, and we aim to make authentic and fresh Italian dishes that are versatile and accessible all day. As well as popular breakfast options such as avocado and poached eggs and our fresh moreish pastries, we also have our very own Wolf branded coffee which is handmade in Devon.”

“We’re currently looking to recruit for all staff positions at our new Nottingham site and welcome any local artists to help us create a unique piece in our store that can be a nod to our new location.”

Ehsan Shammasizadeh, franchisee of Wolf Italian Street Food in Nottingham, said: “From a franchising perspective Wolf is a strong, innovative brand with a simplistic and fresh concept that will be well received in Nottingham.

“Its Market Street location is ideal for reaching city residents, visitors and the student population and the building itself is built to accommodate not only those looking for all-day eating occasions but also for evening events such as open mic nights and talent shows.

“We envisage Wolf being a hub to celebrate talent and creativity and we want to welcome everyone to keep an eye out for events taking place once open.

“As a franchisee working with Fraser Brown for the opening of Wolf in Nottingham, the process has been seamless and efficient. Wolf has so much potential and I look forward to watching the company grow.”

Fiona at Fraser Brown Solicitors said: “Having worked with Wolf for the opening of its other UK franchises, it’s been a pleasure to advise on the latest franchise addition to the East Midlands in Nottingham, especially with Fraser Brown having a solid presence and franchise expertise in the region and with our headquarters in the city centre. We look forward to continuing our support of Wolf’s future UK franchises and wish them every success for the opening and future.”

Related: Wolf Street Food Franchise

James at Fraser Brown said “The Nottingham site is sure to be well received by food lovers and the Market Street premises is well situated to receive good footfall in the city centre.”

Jo Soar, associate, licensing at Fraser Brown Solicitors made the application for the premises licence in February this year. She engaged with authorities prior to the application being submitted which resulted in a positive outcome with the grant of the premises licence for Wolf in a prominent city centre location to reflect the style of operation.

Fraser Brown Solicitors were also able to provide the qualification course (Award for Personal Licence Holders), a training course offered by our licensing team for the franchisee Ehsan to obtain his personal licence.

Wolf Italian Street Food has plans for further UK franchises in Manchester and Glasgow, with the new sites set to open in 2019.

By Steve Fisher

Source: East Midlands Business Link

Inside the last Wimpy in Wales

June 1, 2019

Wimpy Franchise UK. It’s May Bank Holiday weekend and, on Porthcawl sea front, Coney Beach Pleasure Park is a whirl of noise and colour.

Having rusted quietly throughout the off-season, it’s been patiently biding its time – waiting for the arrival of the late spring sunshine to bring back the laughter and bustle of holiday makers and locals looking to bask in the rising temperatures.

The nearby car park, however, resembles more the aftermath of a nuclear three minute warning, with vehicles left all over the place as though their owners have made some mad dash to grab one final go on the rides in what little time remains.

A rollercoaster rattles past overhead to the pumping strains of Sexy And You Know It by US dance duo LMFAO, whilst crowds of people jostle along the narrow boardwalk, weighing up whether to queue for chips or make a break for the sea.

Most importantly, right in the middle of that crossroads of decision is a Wimpy – that’s right, a Wimpy – the last of its kind in Wales.

And, standing there, shielding my eyes from the glare reflecting off its weather beaten metal signage, I feel like Attenborough rocking up at some sub-Saharan basin to come face to face with a species long thought extinct.

Because I’ve not seen a Wimpy, let alone tasted one of the items off its menu, since the 1980s when it seemed there was a branch on every high street in this country.

Indeed, as a young lad in Aberdare , my regular Saturday afternoon ritual would consist of watching wrestling on ITV’s World of Sport – Big Daddy versus Kendo Nagasaki most likely – and eating a Wimpy burger brought back by my parents from a shopping trip to the big city of Cardiff earlier that morning.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Crossed legged on the carpet, I’d eat it lukewarm, along with a similarly tepid serving of fries.

Don’t ask me why I never bothered to reheat them, I just didn’t. And it was heaven.

Really.

So standing here now, amongst the bucket and spade shops and candy floss concessions, I feel like I’ve stepped back to a forgotten time.

And I’m not the only one – Ruth Watkins from Caerphilly has also come in here today to relive a moment from her past.

“Quite by accident, mind,” says the 55-year-old receptionist, who’s on a day out with her husband Jeff.

“We were just after a walk on the beach while the weather was nice, but I ended up grabbing Jeff’s arm and going, ‘Look, love, a Wimpy’,” she laughs.

“Going for a burger in one of these used to be a big part of a Saturday night out with the girls back in the day.

“But it must have been 15 years since I last had one last – I didn’t even realise they were still going.”

Indeed, the story of Wimpy’s rise and fall is a curious one.

Inspired by the patty munching character of J Welington Wimpy in the Popeye cartoon strip of the 1930s, Wimpy first came to life in Bloomington, Indiana in the USA.

In 1954, the UK’s first branch – described as ‘a hamburger parlour’ – opened in London, situated within a West End art deco department store called Lyon’s Corner House.

By 1970, the brand had expanded, boasting – at its peak – more than 500 branches in Great Britain alone, with the first Welsh store opening in College Street, Swansea in 1963.

And, despite the brand’s US origins, there was something uniquely British about the place – not least the table service it offered or the cutlery and china plates with which customers were provided, along with the steadfast refusal to call chips ‘fries’.

Then there was Wimpy’s mascot himself – a cartoonish take on one of the Queen’s Beef Eater guards, he wore a red uniform and brandished a fork in one hand and a salt cellar in the other.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

But it’s perhaps because of this Wimpy would eventually fall out of fashion, pushed to the fast food side lines by the more transatlantic cool of rivals like MaccyD’s and Burger King.

I mean, can you imagine that famous ‘Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?’ line from Pulp Fiction had Wimpy’s popularity not flagged?

Rather than query the Gallic name for a Whopper, Samuel L Jackson would’ve had to turn to John Travolta and reply, “And what do they call a Bender in a Bun?”

Ah yes, the Bender – Wimpy’s infamous Frankfurt sausage in a bap, sliced around the edges, deep fried and curled to fit into its circular bread housing.

Like a “porky laurel wreath,” as author Will Self once described it.

Nevertheless, Wimpy continued to roll (no pun intended) with the punches until 1989 when it was bought by Grand Metropolitan plc, which rebranded many of it outlets as Burger King – the rising company it also owned.

Now only 70 Wimpys still exist in the UK, these largely reduced to haunting service stations on the sides of A-roads or wind-whipped outlets on provincial sea fronts, like the seasonally open solitary one here on the South Wales coast.

Generally operating between “Easter and Bonfire night – weather depending,” the Porthcawl franchise has, for nearly 10 years, belonged to London-born local entrepreneur James Quantick.

“Swear to God, my first memory of going anywhere for a burger was a Wimpy, my mum took me when I was about five or six,” says the 41-year-old, who also owns a number of other businesses along that stretch, including a gift shop, pub and ice cream parlour.

Sitting in a drab back office surrounded by the kind of novelty items you see at a fairground lucky dip, such as personalised tape measures and comedy car licence plates – ‘COOL DAD’ reads one – he says he jumped at the chance to run a branch of the burger chain when the opportunity first arose.

“To my generation it’s an iconic brand, to younger people it perhaps means less,” he sighs.

“And it makes me sad to think some have never eaten a Wimpy or even heard of it.

Related: Wimpy Franchise

“The truth is, maybe the world has moved on since those glory days, but that nostalgic element is part of the charm.

“You can’t recreate that, no matter how big your marketing budget – so, if we put a smile on people’s faces as they go about their day, that ‘s great.”

So he doesn’t mind being a curio, as opposed to something more contemporary?

“I don’t mind that at all,” he adds, mentioning a big revamp that’s earmarked for the restaurant in the not to distant future.

“But we’ll have to see how that fits in with regeneration plans for the town as a whole . Those have been in the pipeline a long time already.

“One thing’s for sure though – while towns change and evolve all the time, this beach is always going to be here.

“And, for as long as I can help it, so shall we.”

By Nathan Bevan

Source: Wales Online