What cuisines are dominating new restaurant openings?

The latest Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners shows conditions are tough for Italian operators but dynamic young brands from certain cuisines are boosting the sector.

20 August 2019
asianchinesejapaneseitalianmiddle easternpubsrestaurants
image credit: Getty Images

  • Restaurant numbers fell by 3.4% in the 12 months to June 2019, meaning an average rate of 18 closures each week.
  • However, group-owned restaurants were down by just 1.2%. American chains helped stem closures as they were up by more than 58% thanks in part to the popularity of burger chains such as Honest Burger and Patty & Bun.
  • Other cuisines have also bucked closures in Britain. Fans of jerk chicken have helped to drive the number of Caribbean restaurants up by 144% to 117 in the last five years, boosted by a flurry of new openings by the Turtle Bay chain.
  • Meat-free continues to be popular too. Vegetarian restaurants have grown by a third to hit 88 and in the last five years the number of vegetarian restaurants has grown by 69.2%.
  • Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants enjoyed surges of more than 60%, to a combined 668.
  • Japanese restaurants, who have been bolstered by chains such as Yo Sushi! and Wagamama, grew by 27% to 626.
  • The number of Italian restaurants fell 4.7% to 2,815, partly attributable to the collapse of Jamie’s Italian. Over the last 12 months, numbers dropped by 3.2%, equating to one net closure every six day.
  • Indian restaurants suffered a 2.6% fall to 5,594.
  • But Chinese food fared the worst with the number of restaurants slumping 7.3% to 2,074.
  • Pubs and bars also suffered – down 2.4% to 116,880 over the past year. However, the rate of closure of pubs and bars was 2%, so lower than the market average.
  • There was another drop in leased pub sites which have fallen by 25% over the last five years to 12,883.
  • Licensed premises that also offer entertainment are doing better than old-school drinking dens, with pubs and bars offering extras such as live music growing by 22%.


“The rapid growth of restaurants focused on certain cuisine types highlights how they can quickly find favour in response to the fast-changing tastes of British diners,” said AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith, who also predicted private equity would be “increasingly active” in the Asian-led sector.

“The Asian-led part of the restaurant market is of particular interest to investors. It is popular with consumers and there is a comparative lack of chains with national scale, making it ripe for further M&A activity.”


“These are turbulent times for the restaurant, pub and bar sectors,” added Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA. “As our new research shows, conditions are especially tough for independents, leased pubs and Italian restaurant operators. But while licensed sites are clearly in overall decline, things may not be quite as bleak as recent media commentary has suggested.

“You don’t have to look too far to find bright spots in the market. The emergence of dynamic young restaurant brands, the soaring popularity of certain cuisines and the revival of managed pubs in many parts of the country all provide grounds for optimism, and operators that can respond nimbly to shifting consumer tastes have a lot to look forward to.”

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