Byron, the gourmet burger chain, has taken London by storm. Now it has its sights set on Yorkshire.
Earlier this month, Byron opened its first restaurant in the region on High Ousegate in York. The company also plans to open an outlet in Leeds later in the Summer.
The York site is a 108-seater restaurant in the former Danish Kitchen building.
The Danish Kitchen family cafe business sold its lease earlier this year after 35 years, with the loss of 17 jobs.
Byron says the York opening will create 40 jobs.
Tom Byng, founder of Byron, says: “We’re very happy to be opening in the capital of the north, at the heart of one of the country’s most beautiful and historic cities. I hope York’s proper hamburger lovers are as excited as we are about our arrival.”
As well as 29 sites in London, Byron has restaurants in Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Kent and Cambridge. It specialises in so-called ‘proper hamburgers’ – simple meals with good quality, 100 per cent Scottish meat.
The chain was founded in 2007 after Byng, who had spent four years in America, returned to the UK and realised that there was little to rival the classic burgers served in the States.
Until recently, Byron was owned by the Gondola Group, which also owns Pizza Express and Zizzi. It was sold at the end of last year for £100m to Wagamama’s parent company Hutton Collins Partners.
So what is the secret to Byron’s success?
“Doing a simple thing properly,” Mr Byng tells The Yorkshire Post. “That thing is hamburgers – carefully sourced beef, minced freshly every day and cooked pink so it’s juicy and succulent. We don’t do frills or ridiculous toppings. We celebrate the classic American hamburger which has stood the test of time.”
Good customer service is at the heart of Byron’s business model. “Arguably, it’s the most important part of the restaurant experience,” says Mr Byng. “Great service can rescue a poor food experience, but not even the best food can make up for terrible service.”
Over the past year, a rash of new restaurants have opened up across Yorkshire, many specialising in American-style food. Mr Byng thinks that this is due to an increased consumer interest in different types of food from all over the world.
“The image of American food was for a long time driven by the big fast food chains and there was a tendency to think it was all junk food.
“The reality is that hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken can be really delicious if properly prepared and cooked. Also, it’s food which is for everyone, great for sharing and perfect for relaxing with friends.”
The decision to open a restaurant in York is part of Byron’s long-term business strategy. Mr Byng says: “Our plan has always been that we’d open one restaurant at a time and if enough people rang up or emailed and said they wanted us in their town or city, then that would be the time to take the plunge.”
Looking ahead, Byron has ambitious plans. Mr Byng explains: “We’re very focused on running great restaurants and bringing Byron to new towns and cities where people have asked us to open.
“We have a few more openings planned for this year, but don’t like to think much further ahead than that. It’s a pragmatic approach which has served us well since we first opened six years ago, so we see no reason to change.”