Leon opens first Irish restaurant

Healthy fast-food chain establishes in Temple Bar

Stuart Fitzgerald, managing director of Leon Ireland, pictured at the launch of the first Irish Leon restaurant  in Temple Bar. Photograph: Julien Behal

Stuart Fitzgerald, managing director of Leon Ireland, pictured at the launch of the first Irish Leon restaurant in Temple Bar. Photograph: Julien Behal

 

Healthy fast-food chain Leon opened its first Irish outlet in Dublin on Wednesday as part of a plan to grow its estate to 20 restaurants here by 2023.

Through a franchise partnership, the Irish arm has established its presence in a premises previously occupied by Eager Beaver vintage clothing store in Temple Bar with space extending to 1,600sq ft over two floors.

Group sales for the company which first established in London rose 24.5 per cent in 2018 to £95 million (€109 million). Last year it opened restaurants in Washington DC, Norway and Spain. It also has restaurants in the Netherlands.

Having opened its first restaurant here on Wednesday, the company plans to expand with a second outlet earmarked for Dundrum Town Centre.

In the Republic, Leon is controlled by Cibus Concepts, a franchise partnership established by Waterford accountant Stuart Fitzgerald and his business partner Brian McIntyre. The group is backed by individual high-net-worth equity investors, Mr Fitzgerald previously told The Irish Times.

Reasonable price

“The need for an offering like Leon is so evident, somewhere that will offer vegan, gluten free and vegetarian options at a reasonable price,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Leon’s menu includes dishes that predominantly draw on Mediterranean food culture, with Moroccan meatballs, grilled halloumi wraps and kefir smoothies on offer.

The primary company was founded by chief executive John Vincent among others and is backed by GP Investments and Active Private Equity.