While Germany has long been considered a country offering many traditional dishes, there are now an increasing number of restaurants popping up that are bringing new flavours to the table.
The country is a playground for hospitality entrepreneurs, and we have the proof: a round-up of the 57 expanding restaurant businesses with solid concepts and strong operations. You’ll find everything and anything: classic burger joints, steakhouses and pizzerias, but also cat temples and American diners. But even within the same category, you’ll find very distinctive brand personalities.
Ready for a deep dive? In no particular order – let’s go…
Hans im Glück
Germany, Austria and Switzerland
In the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale Hans in Luck, Hans starts his journey with a big piece of gold, which he trades down for things of lesser value. Eventually he remains with nothing, but he’s happier than ever. Burger chain Hans im Glück embraces the same less is more philosophy for its burgers: only fresh ingredients and the highest quality. You don’t really need anything more to be happy. Hans im Glück offers a creative interpretation of the ‘burger’ for the health-conscious crowd.
If you ever had a currywurst in Germany, chances are it was at one of United Curry’s franchises: Wurst Teufel, Grillbar, GrillGut, or Bratwerk. United Curry has a systematic approach to creating and managing different brands of the typical German snack. Aspiring franchisees will find different types of locations for all settings: food stalls and mobile food trucks for areas with high foot traffic, and mini counters and larger bars for train stations, supermarkets, and petrol stations.
Immergrün is evergreen food for fresh people. This vegetarian concept started out in 2005 in Berlin as a juice and smoothie bar. 17 years later, the chain has evolved into a go-to place for vegans, vegetarians, and also omnivores who want to take a break from meat and enjoy salads, falafels or wraps made to order with ultra-fresh ingredients.
Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, France
Not many modern restaurant chains can claim to have been in the business for more than 120 years. Nordsee is one of them. Founded in 1896 as a fishery and wholesaler, in 1964 it opened the first seafood restaurant/fish shop — where one could eat seafood-based meals or buy raw seafood to take home — and grew very rapidly from there. Today, Nordsee operates solely as a seafood retailer and restaurant, with more than 370 stores worldwide and the same passion for fresh sustainable seafood.
Fried Chicken, Burgers
The wooden spoon is a simple but evocative image of what this chain of snack restaurants stands for: home, and not just for the honest-to-goodness grilled chicken and currywurst, but also for the values of trust, care, and friendliness that this family business – run by the second generation – has put forward for more than 60 years. The Kochlöffel chain has about 80 outlets and is actively looking for new franchisees.
French Fries and Salads
True to their battle cry ‘Fries before guys’, at Frittenwerk they love fries and won’t apologize for it. The menu features three types of dishes served in many different versions: poutine (French fries topped by cheese and gravy), various fried snacks, and salads for the cholesterol-conscious. The level of Frittenpride is such that this chain also has a whole range of merchandise (t-shirts, sweaters, bags, and even gold chains) dedicated to their love for the humble spud, fried like the French (or is it the Belgian?) do.
Germany, France, England, Austria, Luxemburg and the Netherlands
In Italy, L’Osteria is a restaurant where you give up fancy decor in exchange for homemade traditional food, cooked with time-honoured recipes that have been handed down for generations in the cook’s family. In Germany, l’Osteria took this concept and added a touch of modernity. The first restaurant opened in 1999, and since then they have expanded like their pizzas, which go well beyond the edge of the plate.
At Peter Pane (pronounced as it’s written, which means bread in Italian) they create burgers in an atmosphere of light-heartedness and joy. Except when it comes to helping the community, which is when they get serious. The chain has a charity program that has given over €350,000 over four years to support projects for children and young people and organizes BMX workshops with pro-athlete Chris Böhm.
Whether you are a professional or occasional snacker, the Back-Factory has a range of freshly prepared sandwiches, hot snacks, pastries and baked items to happily treat yourself between meals. The first Back-Factory opened in 2002 as a self-service bakery, and a few years later the concept evolved from ‘grub’ngo’ to ‘snack and linger’. The brand was acquired in 2021 by foodservice giant Valora.
Far from your usual watering hole, Extrablatt is a pub open to everyone, young and old, every day at any time of the day. It’s a family-run business that develops food and takes care of logistics all internally, to give customers a relaxed experience. The menu includes burgers, a breakfast buffet, cocktails and the ever-present currywurst.
A 29-year-young restaurant chain that offers authentic Californian-Mexican cuisine with a menu featuring burgers and burritos, chicken wings and quesadillas, and the widest selection of cocktails you’ll ever find in any restaurant. The ambience is as colourful as its dishes, with themes of two Mexican icons, Frida Kahlo and The Day of the Dead. Sausalitos’ heart, however, is definitely green: they only use biodegradable packaging materials and work with regional suppliers of meat and vegetables. They will plant a tree in Ghana for each Green Karma Mojito that gets ordered.
Coffee and Pastries
Germany, the Netherlands, the US
Coffee Fellows is all about excellent coffees. The two founders, Stefan and Kathi in 2019 travelled to the foot of Kilimanjaro to get to know in person the farmers who produce their beans. Espressos and cappuccinos are not really prepared, rather, they’re handcrafted by capable baristas who play with grinding mesh, water temperature and brewing time to give the best coffee experience. The brand includes a Coffee Fellows Hotel in Dortmund, where you can feel at home, before and after having a great macchiato.