Yalla Yalla begins London expansion with Shoreditch pop-up

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant

Yalla Yalla's Shoreditch pup-up restaurant will open in mid-November for a minimum of six months
Yalla Yalla's Shoreditch pup-up restaurant will open in mid-November for a minimum of six months
Lebanese and Middle Eastern street food concept Yalla Yalla is set to open a new pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch High Street next month, with two permanent sites planned to open in central London in early 2013. 

The group, which opened three years ago and currently has restaurants in Green's Court and Winsley Street, will open the pop-up in a 30-foot long container on Shoreditch High Street in mid-November for a minimum of six months. This follows on from Yalla Yalla's Southbank 'Summer Shack' pop-up venue, which recently finished.   

And, according to Aga Youssef, who runs the business with husband Jad, they are still looking for a perminent site in Shoreditch with hopes to eventually have six to eight sites in the capital before potentially expanding into the rest of the UK.

"In Shoreditch we’re still looking for a permanent site," she told BigHospitality. "The South Bank pop-up was really good for us and if anything comes up for a permanent site there then we would also consider it. 

Two new restaurants

"I’m sure we have the room to grow in the UK. There are two more permanent Yalla Yalla restaurants coming in central London in the spring 2013. There is definitely a niche for it – people seem to love Lebanese food and it’s healthy food which is really important at the moment.

"The idea is to just have the right locations and the right sites and if the product is good, then it will work. We would want to eventually have six to eight sites in the capital and then potentially move into other areas of the UK."

Dining at Yalla Yalla Shoreditch will be al fresco, under a canopy with heaters and cushioned low-level seating, or at tables with stools for up to 50 people. The restaurant will feature Lebanese lounge music, belly dancers and live DJs.

On the menu

The menu will follow that of the previous pop-up and permanent sites;  a range of hot mezze to share, dips, sides, salds and pastries, either to eat on-site or take away. A short Lebanese wine and beer selection will also feature alongside a list of cocktails, juices, coffee, tea and shisha.

Speaking of the rising popularity of street food in the UK,​ Aga Youssef added: "People are so busy now in London; there's lots going on and, despite the recession, there are still lots of these smaller, street food-style restaurants opening. Now we are seeing a lot more vendors selling anything from frozen yoghurts to burgers.

"The quality of food often surprises customers as well, what we cook at our pop-ups is of restaurant quality, so a lot of customers will remember you and it offers them something new to what they might usually have for lunch.

"Ultimately, people have to have a nice time. Food and service are the number one points, but after that it’s about the ambience and the entertainment. In places like Shoreditch you have to be ‘loud’ with your offering, give diners something that will stand out, something they’ll remember like music events and belly dancing."

Related topics: Restaurants, Venues, Business

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