Leon Restaurants

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Leon Restaurants Limited
GenreFast Food Restaurant
FoundersJohn Vincent
Henry Dimbleby
Allegra McEvedy[2]
United Kingdom
Number of locations
61 (March 2020)[3]
Area served
United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United States
Key people
John Vincent, Chief Executive Officer
Leon, Kings Cross Station, London

Leon (branded as LEON.) is a fast food chain based in the United Kingdom, established in 2004.


Leon was founded by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby with chef Allegra McEvedy.[4][5][6][7] The business was named after Vincent's father, Leon,[8][5][9] and opened its first outlet in Carnaby Street in 2004.[10][11] Six months after opening, Leon was named the "Best New Restaurant in Great Britain" at The Observer Food Monthly Awards.[9]

In 2009, Leon became a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.[12]

In March 2009, McEvedy gave up her role at Leon to focus on writing and television work, but remains a shareholder. In 2014, John Vincent took over from Henry Dimbleby as CEO, and Dimbleby then left the board in 2017. He also remains a shareholder.

By 2015 Leon had 57 restaurants.[13] In January 2015, HMSHost operated six Leon locations in airports and railway stations in southern England, and Leon announced an expansion of its relationship with HMSHost in 2018, including a franchise agreement in airports and railway stations across Europe and the Middle East.[14][15][16] By establishing this presence, the company hoped to reach an international audience, and help create demand ahead of further overseas openings.[17][18]

In June 2016 the first Leon outside England opened in Amsterdam.[19] Other international openings followed including restaurants at Utrecht, Oslo, Gran Canaria, Dublin and Leon's first restaurant in the United States, in Washington, D.C.[20]

The chain was named in the 2017 The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list.[21] Leon is backed by Active Private Equity and, in May 2017, Spice Private Equity became a major investor to support further global expansion plans.[citation needed]

By 2018, the company had 61 sites.[22] In the first quarter of 2019, 53% of the chain's food sales were plant-based or vegetarian.[22]

Feed NHS[edit]

In March 2020, Leon set up the "Feed NHS" initiative to deliver 5,600 free meals a day to NHS critical care staff at London hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.[23] Other restaurant chains became involved, including Franco Manca, Tortilla, and Wasabi.[24] A JustGiving page was created to raise funds.[25]

Other activities[edit]

Leon has published several cookbooks, and developed a cookware and tableware line with retailer John Lewis.[26][27]

Wing Tsun[edit]

Leon co-founder and CEO, John Vincent, has co-authored a book, Winning Not Fighting with Sifu Julian Hitch, published in November 2019. The book takes the principles of the ancient martial art of Wing Tsun and applies them to achieving success in work, life and business.[28] It encourages readers not to conceive of business as a battle – a core principle of Wing Tsun is that fighting should be avoided at all costs.

Vincent has revealed that Wing Tsun shapes the way that Leon operates. All new employees at Leon are put through Wing Tsun training and Vincent claims that this has improved the speed and quality of Leon baristas' coffee-making.[28]


In the United Kingdom, Leon implements equal pay, for both age and gender. The company pays the over 25s rate of the minimum wage to all hourly paid employees, including those aged below 25.[22]

One of the founders of Leon is Henry Dimbleby, a strong supporter of Vote Leave in the Brexit referendum, who spent the results evening with Michael Gove.[29]


  1. ^ "Vision".
  2. ^ "Founders".
  3. ^ "Restaurants".
  4. ^ Evans, Simon (16 August 2009). "Henry Dimbleby: nine restaurants and growing". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  5. ^ a b "John Vincent, co-founder, Leon Restaurants". Marketing. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  6. ^ Bordell, Tom; Jaffer, Mehdi. "If God owned McDonald's..." London: The Gateway. Archived from the original on 26 October 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Food chefs: Allegra McEvedy". London: BBC. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  8. ^ Evans, Simon (16 August 2009). "Henry Dimbleby: nine restaurants and growing". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b Nielsen, Tina (July 2008). "Profile: Leon". Director magazine. London. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  10. ^ Restaurants, Leon. "Vision". Leonrestaurants.co.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  11. ^ Scott-Moncrieff, Chloe (22 January 2006). "Fast food needn't be junk food". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Leon co-founder to lead food system review". BBC News. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Restaurants – Leon Restaurants". Leonrestaurants.co.uk. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  14. ^ Restaurants, Leon. "HMS". Leonrestaurants.co.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  15. ^ Central & East News. "Leon Lands at Stansted". insidermedia.com. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  16. ^ Lysecki, Sarah. "HMSHost wins Eurotunnel and East Midlands Airport concessions". Moodiereport.com. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. ^ Burn-Callander, Rebecca. "Leon eyes US expansion". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  18. ^ "LEON launches flagship restaurant in Gran Canaria Airport". QSRMedia UK. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  19. ^ "Healthy fast food chain Leon reveals profit leap – and its secret martial arts experiment". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Leon aims to help US 'fall back in love' with fast food". Evening Standard. 25 June 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Fast Track 100 league table 2017". The Sunday Times Fast Track. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  22. ^ a b c "Leon Restaurants Limited: Annual Report and Financial Statements, 2018". Companies House. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  23. ^ Butler, Sarah (27 March 2020). "Leon sets up initiative to deliver free meals to NHS critical care staff". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  24. ^ Milsom, Jennie (27 March 2020). "These amazing people need us - Leon's FeedNHS appeal for 'vital funds' hopes to raise £1m". The Caterer. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Damian, Helen & Matt". JustGiving.
  26. ^ "English restaurateurs share ideas for healthy cooking in 'Leon: Naturally Fast Food'". 17 October 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  27. ^ "LEON - John Lewis & Partners". www.johnlewis.com. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  28. ^ a b Vincent, John; Hitch, Julian. "Winning Not Fighting". Penguin Books. Retrieved 16 August 2019.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  29. ^ {{Cite web|url= https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/01/this-isnt-a-tough-new-food-policy-for-post-brexit-uk-its-thin-gruel-and-easy-to-set-to-one-side

External links[edit]