American diner trend continues: Zaks announces first franchise

By Lauren Houghton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Diner

Husband and wife team Davind and Joan Hughes will be running the new Zaks franchise in South West Norfolk
Husband and wife team Davind and Joan Hughes will be running the new Zaks franchise in South West Norfolk
Blue Sky Leisure’s Norfolk-based American diner chain Zaks is opening a fourth restaurant in the south west of the county under its first franchise partnership.

The new restaurant, due to open by the end of the year, will be run by husband and wife team David and Joan Hughes. who discovered the franchise opportunity by reading their local paper.

Joan Hughes said: “We’ve been fans of the Zaks brand and its fantastic food for many years so the chance to open our own diner under this franchise agreement is incredibly exciting.”

Zaks' branding

Zaks’ diners aim to replicate the environment and culture in American diners by researching trends in the States. The brand imports certain products for authenticity but buys meat and fresh produce from local suppliers.

David Hughes said: “We’ll be sourcing the famous Zaks burger from the company’s existing supplier in Norwich, guaranteeing the continuity of quality Zaks’ customers have come to know and love.

“However we are also absolutely committed to building our own local supplier network to ensure the freshness of all the dishes we plan to serve, and we will be seeking the advice of Zaks’ suppliers to make sure this happens.”

The Zaks brand serves a large selection of burgers including offerings such as the ‘Dairy State’ with smooth cheese and butter, the ‘Hogfather’ topped with pulled pork and the ‘Heaven or Hell’ burger which gives the option of sour cream with sweet chilli or hot sauce and jalapenos. The dessert menu features the ‘Sweet Burger’ with layers of cookies, waffles, confectionary, ice cream and cream.

Franchise and expansion

BigHospitality first announced Zaks’ franchise plans last year​ when the chief executive of Blue Sky Leisure Ian Hacon told us the company was keen to expand the concept and take advantage of the growing popularity of American-themed restaurants.

The Zaks team are committed to building a local supplier network for their fresh produce

Blue Sky Leisure hopes the franchise scheme will see Zaks open 30 new American diner restaurants over the next five years. The plan is for Zaks to start its expansion in the provinces as neighbourhood diners before thinking about bringing the brand towards cities like London.

The Zaks brand first launched in the UK in 1979 and it currently has three restaurants in Norwich: Zaks Waterside Grill and Bar, Zaks Mousehold Diner and Zaks Poringland Diner.

American diner culture

Recently BigHospitality has reported a great deal on the expansion of the diner culture and the growth in popularity of American-style restaurants.

Last week we reported that the Ed’s Easy Diner brand had been named as the fastest-growing restaurant group​ in the eating and drinking out market, with an annual growth rate of 127 per cent. Ed’s has just opened its 24th site and the brand plans to reach 100 restaurants by 2018.

The Honky Tonk American diner concept secured a second site in Clapham​ after first opening in Chelsea, and plans to roll out more venues across London.

Last year Fullers caught onto the trend and announced its new American diner bar concept​, The Swift, to ‘fill a gap in the market’. The Richoux group also opened its fifth Dean’s Diner​ restaurant in October 2013, its second site to open that year. 

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