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Umami Burger Plots Major Global Expansion

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The LA-based chain is headed to Japan, the Middle East, the UK, and beyond

Nick Fochtman/Eater Chicago

Brace for more Umami Burgers: The California-based chain has plans for big growth both across the U.S. and internationally, thanks to its new majority owner.

Nation’s Restaurant News reports SBE, the company behind the SLS brand of hotels in Vegas, Miami, and LA — as well as restaurants such as José Andrés’s Bazaar Meat — has expanded its ownership of Umami Restaurant Group, now holding a 78 percent stake in the company. SBE has major expansion stars in its eyes, with particular interest in expanding Umami in the Middle East, the UK, and Europe.

Umami Burger, which currently has 24 locations, plans to open “eight to 10” new outposts each year going forward; its first international store will hit Japan later this year, part of a licensing deal that will eventually lead to 10 stores across Japan over the next five years.

SBE CEO Sam Nazarian tells NRN that Umami Burger, which recently teamed up with Alton Brown to concoct a breakfast burger, is “able to compete with the Shake Shacks of the world” — but the two chains are quite different: Most Umami Burger restaurants are full-service, with burgers topped with high-end ingredients like Parmesan fricos and truffle cheese that clock in around $12. The company does have two fast-casual locations, however, and says it has more in the works as it expands.

Umami’s got a ways to go until its footprint will resemble that of Shake Shack, though: In just 12 years the latter has gone from a humble cart in Madison Square Park to a 100-plus-unit juggernaut with locations in Dubai, Tokyo, and South Korea.

Umami Burger Corporate Takeover Means Big International Expansion Plans [ELA]
SBE Takes Majority Stake in Umami Burger [Nation’s Restaurant News]
All Umami Burger Coverage [E]

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