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A look inside the 2,000-square-foot Leon, opening Monday, September 10.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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London’s Quirky Quick-Serve Eatery Leon Makes Its U.S. Debut Next Week

The Pippa Middleton-approved import is scheduled to open downtown on Monday, September 10

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Bright and whimsical British fast-food chain Leon is ready to bring its all-day lineup of affordable salads, toasts, wraps, and sandwiches to D.C. — with nothing on the menu over $10.

The health-conscious eatery’s first U.S. location and first of many D.C. area locations (1724 L Street NW) is scheduled to open on Monday, September 10 and operate on weekdays only to start, from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sides like baked fries and hummus start at $2.50, and most meals cost around $6.50 to $8.50. “Big boxes” — served with kale slaw and brown rice — include a cumin and cardamom-spiced lamb kofte topped with pickles, aioli, chili sauce, toasted seeds, and fresh herbs ($9.95).

Upon entry, customers are welcomed by the brand’s marquee-style Leon signage, as well as its huge orange logo painted on a wall. The 2,000-square-foot space is also accented by images of trumpet-playing female figures and framed family photos of Leon staff members hanging above tables.

“We are definitely not fast-casual. It’s a fast food model,” CEO John Vincent told Eater this year, noting that most customers can get in and out in under three minutes.

The company bases its food around the Mediterranean diet, which means lots of fruits, vegetables, and seeds are in the mix. During each seasonal menu shift, Leon’s management works with nutritionists to create what it calls “gut friendly” foods like egg pots; avocado feta toast; vegan meatballs; sweet potato falafel wraps; chicken burgers and more. As an ode to its British roots and its 50 London locations, there’s a breaded fillet of fish wrapped with romaine lettuce, pickles, and its own quinoa tartare sauce ($7.50). Another non-traditional Leon condiment is tarragon-olive oil mayonnaise. The brand also makes its own lemonade and is the first D.C. restaurant to serve organic Tractor sodas.

The packaging — think: compact vegan falafel wraps — encourages on-the-go eating. Leon also wants its diners to eat more at home: Its colorful two-year-old cookware line from U.K. retailer John Lewis is sold inside the store, as are thick stacks of Leon cookbooks. Sustainability is also a big part of the expansion-minded brand, with paper straws and biodegradable cups for coffee.

Here’s a look at the opening menu for the fall:

Status: Scheduled to open on Monday, September 10 at 6:30 a.m. 1724 L Street NW; website.

The average transaction time at Leon is about 30 seconds.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Leon could plant as many as 20 locations across the D.C. area within the next three years, the team told Eater this summer.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Eater has learned its next D.C. location is opening some time next spring in Mount Vernon Triangle along Seventh Street NW.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
The Leon team is working with a real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle to find more locations in high-density neighborhoods.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Leon got a complete transformation from its former life as an Au Bon Pain.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
The team tells Eater D.C. will act as a “good gateway” to expand to other cities like Chicago and New York City down the road.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Each Leon location sports its own look, with over 50 logos — like painted images of oranges and female figures — sprinkled throughout.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Leon will also sell its branded colorful cookware sets and coffee mugs at the store, along with its cookbook line.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Alexandria, Va. roaster Swings is producing small batches of coffee for Leon, with a portion of proceeds donated to World Land Trust.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
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