Some of America’s newest restaurant concepts are imports, successful brands from other countries that are trying to make their mark here.
Many of the restaurants have roots in Asia. But there are plenty of other global concepts finding success with American audiences, from Australian coffeeshops to the French-founded macaron shop Laduree.
Here’s a look at some of the international concepts expanding their American footprints.
1. Jinya Ramen Bar
Tomonori Takahashi (himself the son of a restaurant owner) launched this concept in 2000 in Tokyo before crossing over to California a decade later. The full-service ramen restaurant now has units in five states, serving housemade ramen noodles as well as rice bowls. It opened its first East Coast unit last year, with further expansion planned. In the last year, sales have grown 42.8%. The menu is expanding as well, with the addition of pork-stuffed steam buns and on-trend poke bowls.
This New Zealand-based fast-casual burger chain just opened its first U.S. unit in Indianapolis. The brand made headlines for exiting a partnership with Subway that would’ve made it an expansion option for the sandwich chain’s franchisees. Subway and Franchise Brands retain a 10% stake in BurgerFuel. The burger chain, which also offers vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and halal options, has more than 80 units in six countries and is eyeing further U.S. growth.
3. 85C Bakery Cafe
Customers have waited in lines more than an hour long at the concept’s recently-opened Seattle-area unit to scoop up its Asian pastries, such as the Marble Taro Bun and milky brioche. 85C gets its name from what it believes is the optimal temperature for brewing coffee, though it is known for its iced sea salt coffee, which it offers for 85 cents on Mondays. Founded in Taiwan, 85C has more than 900 units worldwide and continues to expand in the States.
4. Ace Cafe
This London-based car-focused brand debuted its first U.S. location last month In Orlando, Fla. At 35,000 square feet, the Florida eatertainment space is significantly larger than the cafe’s five other locations. Ace Cafe Orlando, a full-service restaurant, features two kitchens, four bars, a coffee bar, a lunch counter, an entertainment stage, a retail area, meeting spaces and a motorcycle shop. The cafe serves iconic British dishes like bangers and mash, fish and chips and chicken curry.
5. Kula Revolving Sushi Bar
Gamifying the dining experience is the differentiator at this tech-focused, Japan-based conveyor belt sushi chain. The concept employs prizes as an incentive to get diners to eat more food. A customer who eats 15 plates receives a small toy such as a keychain or stickers via a machine. The sushi concept has some 400 locations worldwide, with 11 in the U.S. It saw sales growth of 33.9% in the past year.
A fast-casual bakery cafe that started in South Korea, this brand entered the U.S. in 2012. In the last year, the chain has added 10 U.S. units and has seen sales grow 39.1%. But the chain's ambitious growth is being blamed for operational losses. The brand is currently in the midst of a turnaround bid that includes seeking a master franchise partner. The chain’s menu focuses on coffee, Belgian waffles and sub sandwiches which, according to the brand’s website, were added to “meet the diverse tastes of people in America.”