One Dish Wonders


Having emerged out of the highly competitive New York foodie market in 2010, `One Dish Wonders' quickly made their way to the UK and continue to grow in popularity.

The One Dish Wonder concept is built on authenticity. Perfecting a single dish, or a short menu around the same ingredient, satisfies customers who choose their restaurants based on what they want to eat, as opposed to where they want to eat. Early adopters of this idea were focused on sweet goods (Crosstown Doughnuts, SNOG) however, the concept has now expanded to a wide range of savoury foods (Le Relais de Venise, and more recently eggslut (seen above). Burger & Lobster was one of the first to open in 2011, and now has nine London restaurants and has just three menu options: a burger served bloody, a whole lobster and a lobster roll.

One Dish Wonder restaurants are very conducive to a food court environment, the popularity of which was discussed in ‘Multiple Choice’ a couple of weeks ago. Retail landlords are looking to find more flexible and experiential uses of space in shopping centres, and One Dish Wonders are particularly advantageous in that format. The occupier reaps the benefit of being in a high footfall food court location, with reduced overheads and minimal direct competition (due to the variety of dishes).

Additionally, the landlord can factor in flexible leases to encourage occupier churn and keep the offer exciting for visitors.

Building upon the unique dining experience, these concepts also make a compelling business case. A more limited and specialised menu enables more precise stock planning and reduces storage space. This has a material impact on the costs of starting a new business, reducing barriers to entry for entrepreneurs.

Crosstown Doughnuts and eggslut are two notable occupiers in this market. The former established itself in Soho in 2015 before growing to 11 units and 9 market stalls in 2019. In contrast, the latter is an emerging brand in the UK, due to open its first store in August. This follows on from a successful launch in a food truck at the home of one dish wonders, New York City. Both restaurants have based their concept on two key strategies; inexpensive raw materials and a strong social media presence. This means that they can capitalise on significant margins (protecting them from the volatility of property costs and the labour market, not to mention Brexit), and raise awareness inexpensively by generating a strong social media following behind the brand.

With a sure but steady rise in popularity, the One Dish Wonder is becoming commonplace in the UK’s major cities, however, it will be interesting to see if this trend can capture the hearts of shoppers at the UK’s secondary shopping destinations, where crowd pleasing casual dining reigns supreme.

Natasha Hewitt