Gold Brands, the only listed fast-food retail company on the JSE AltX in South Africa, is bringing Las Iguanas, a UK mid-market restaurant brand that specialises in authentic Mexican, Brazilian & South American food and cocktails, to the South African market.

“South Africans are always hungry for new places to dine, and Las Iguanas will fill the gap with this fantastic, well established concept,” says Stelio Nathanael, chief operating officer of Gold Brands, which will open the first outlet in Johannesburg in June.

Gold Brands, the brainchild of restaurant-industry veterans Stelio and his wife Praxia, was established in 2012 and has become one of the leading franchise companies in South Africa. In addition to its existing brands: Chesanyama; Blacksteer; 1+1 Pizza Pasta; Opa!Pitaland; and Chicken Wild Wings; the company has added top UK brands from the Casual Dining Group: Las Iguanas, Café Rouge, Belgo and Bella Italia, to its expanding portfolio.

“Fewer South Africans can afford to spend money on indulgent holidays these days, and they’re spending their money on dining out instead,” says Stelio. “Casual dining is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, and Gold Brands is excited to be part of this booming market.”

“The idea behind the brand was to create a fun, happy place that made people feel good about themselves and life in general. Twenty five years down the line, it’s still doing just that,” says Mos Shamel, MD of Las Iguanas, which started in Bristol in 1991. Known for its vibrant colours and atmosphere, the outlet, which now has 53 sites, has become a UK institution and well respected name on the high street.

An integral part of its identity is its extensive cocktail offer, which boasts a variety of classic South American serves, such as mojitos, caipririnhas and margaritas.

Its food menu draws inspiration from exciting flavours across South America, featuring a large range of tacos, alongside a selection of Mexican classics and tapas style small plates, among other favourites. Its Buenos Airies burger also won the UK Casual Dining Magazine National Burger Awards in 2017.

Mark Nelson, Managing Director of Franchising and Concessions at CDG, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to bring our brands to South Africa and reach a new audience. Our brands are regarded as high quality high street favourites in the UK and we’re confident they will thrive in this new market.”

Las Iguanas will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, with specials added daily. A bespoke children’s menu is available, which has been designed with Aardman animations, a world renowned animation company behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, so that it is easily navigable for children.