American-themed barbecue pits, smokehouses, burger bars, and diners could be about to replace Mexican outlets as the biggest growth area on the UK’s eating out scene over the next few years, reports Horizons’ latest Ones To Watch study.

The biannual Ones To Watch report, which tracks the growth of new and emerging brands with between five and 25 outlets and which have shown over 20% growth over the past 3 years, lists a number of US-themed outlets in its list of the top10 fastest growing brands, either by number of new outlets or percentage growth, and an even larger number of US-themed fledgling ‘Bubbling Under’ brands.

While Dunkin’ Donuts tops the latest chart of the fastest growing brands by percentage growth rate (2013-2016), US-themed Red’s True Barbecue comes in jointly at number six alongside Grillstock Smokehouse, while Coast To Coast, The Restaurant Group-owned American-themed outlet, now has 21 sites with another four planned to open this year.

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“We have seen a significant rise in the numbers of Ones To Watch and Bubbling Under brands (those that have yet to reach five outlets) offering US-style dining including barbecue pits, smokehouses, burgers bars and classic American diners,” commented Horizons’ analyst Nicola Knight.

“They are opening across the UK on high streets in affluent market towns and secondary cities, many in converted pub premises, which offer the size, location and parking facilities that suit these all-day diners.”

American casual dining outlets, whether home-spun or US-based, have also been attracting the attention of investors as well as larger operators, largely because of their rollout potential and scaleability.

Red’s True Barbecue, at number 6 in the Ones To Watch rankings, has recently secured £9m-worth of investment, while Fulham Shore, owner of the Real Greek and Franco Manca chains, has agreed a franchise agreement with charcoal grill specialist Bukowski Grill.

Roll-out Restaurants is planning to grow its Dirty Burger concept, while pub operator Young’s is about to open its first standalone Burger Shack & Bar, with plans for at least 20 by 2018.

US-owned Smashburger is due to open its first UK outlet, while Fatburger and Shake Shack have both announced their intention to seek UK expansion.

“American casual dining certainly isn’t new to the UK but we are seeing a steady resurgence in its popularity as operators have modernised and upgraded the concept,” said Knight.