Two US fast food chains unveil UAE plans

Two US fast food restaurants brands have announced plans to expand into the UAE.

Steak Escape, a ‘Philly’ cheese-steak sandwich brand, is set to open its first restaurant in the Gulf state in August in Dubai’s Business Bay development.

Escape Enterprises, the owner of Steak Escape, has signed a master franchise agreement with HMS Steak (UAE) for the expansion.

A further nine restaurants are planned in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the next three years through a combination of wholly-owned corporate stores and sub-franchised units. Two restaurants are already open in Saudi Arabia, with a third on the way.

Steak Escape has more than 80 restaurants in the US and Mexico.

Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries, a 1950s-themed burger restaurant based in North Carolina, is also heading to the Middle East, reported the local newspaper Goldsboro News-Argus.

Al Rumaithy, an Abu Dhabi-based partner for the venture, has committed to bringing in 15 restaurants and has an option for another 70 restaurants across the Middle East, according to the newspaper.

Hwy 55 has more than 100 restaurants in North Carolina and plans to add around 300 stores and 6,000 employees as it expands into other parts of the US, including Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, in the next seven years.

The Middle East has seen a surge in fast food chains entering the market and expanding in recent years as international brands look to bolster sales amid increased competition in their domestic markets.

High demand from locals and expats makes the region a strong market for a range of concepts, especially in Gulf countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia’s fast food maket is expected to hit US$4.5bn in the next three years, driven by orders from young, affluent citizens, according to a recent report by Euromonitor.

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