Johnny Rockets, the international restaurant chain offering a “classic American experience”, said it has received a “fantastic” response from prospective partners in the UK and said that it hoped to open its first site here around the turn of the year.

The company’s senior vice president of international development Scott Chorna, who is currently in the UK talking to prospective franchisees, told M&C Report that the UK and Europe had not always been top of the agenda for mid-market US brands, but “that mindset has changed over the last 18 months and there is greater awareness of the segment across the region”.

He said that the group, which is owned by Sun Capital Partners and operates over 320 sites worldwide, would look to open in London first, although remarked with “real estate prices as they are” in the capital, a launch in another major UK city would not be ruled out.

Chorna said: “I am over here for a two-day franchise show, but already we have received a fantastic response to the brand in the pre-screen meetings that we had. We are not going to rush and we need to find the right partner, but if all goes well we would hope to have our first site opened before the year end, or realistically in the first quarter of next year.

“We won’t put any numbers on how many sites we think the UK can sustain until that first one is in the pipeline.”

Last summer, the company established an international division, headed by Steve Devine, and set out plans to triple its presence outside the US.

It recently opened its first two sites in India, plus made its debut in Brazil and Pakistan.

There are currently Johnny Rockets franchising agreements in countries throughout North and South America, Asia and the Middle East.

Additionally, there are plans for 40 restaurants in Russia.