Our Story

Our Story


Zaks has been a part of people’s lives in Norwich and Norfolk since 1976. People share memories over 3 generations with a Zak’s burger.


But where did it all start?


In 1976 local musician and entrepreneur Harvey Platt had the idea to bring a slice of America to Norwich after working for and with the American war machine in South East Asia and a later visit to San Francisco to meeting up with former musician buddies.


Harvey had the opportunity to purchase an old café caravan situated on Castle Meadow Norwich next to the old cattle market which is now the Vue cinema (Castle Mall) and that’s where the legend began.


Zaks opened in May 1976 serving the now famous chargrilled burgers in the “Original Zaks Caravan” wrapped in tin foil and cooked fresh to order in the American tradition.


Our burgers are still made by the same local company that have supplied Zaks for over 40 years! They are made to our own size, shape and recipe from 100% beef with nothing added at all.


Zaks became the meeting place for people after a night out in Norwich and has a fond place in people’s memories and many stories are told! Zaks is viewed by many as Norwich’s original street food!


From the success of the original caravan in 1978 the first Zaks restaurant opened its doors on King Street in Great Yarmouth shortly followed by the iconic Zaks on Mousehold Heath  in Norwich in 1979. Zaks was quickly developing into a family destination. Sadly in the mid 80’s the caravan closed but in 1988  Zaks Waterside  opened on the banks of the river on Barrack Street opposite the Norwich landmark Cow Tower.


10 years later in 1998 Harvey passed over the reins of the Norwich restaurants to the family run Blue Sky Leisure  and added Zaks Poringland  in 2005 and Zaks Thetford in 2015 (which sadly was closed in 2019)!


On 1st February 2020, Ian Hacon and Chris Carr became joint owners of Zaks (UK) Limited after purchasing from Blue Sky Leisure! Ian, who originally trained as a Chartered Accountant, spent 15 years working at Zaks previous parent company, Blue Sky Leisure, including 9 years as CEO where he helped the group win the coveted Archant Business of the Year Award and drove home a major cultural change programme, focussing on staff and customer experience. Chris Carr has 25+ years experience in the hospitality sector, working for major national and local family brands. He led Zaks for 10 years up to 2016. Chris guided Zaks through through one of its most successful periods, turning around its fortunes and reconnecting it with its customer base.


We like to think Zaks is an authentic American dining experience and all our locations are very different packed with Americana and playing legendary music, loud…. We capture the taste of America through our authentic recipes from our famous hot wings to our home cooked macaroni cheese! We buy all our meat and fresh food from local suppliers as we know the importance of knowing where our food comes from. With the option of having your burger over 20 different ways  (not including how it is cooked) from a good old fashioned cheeseburger to the PB with smooth peanut butter, maple and red pepper glaze, bacon & crispy onions; Zaks really is the destination for burger fans. Whilst it is all about the burger we have a wide range of dishes from our slow cooked baby back ribs  to southern fried chicken. Our hot sauce is hot and our sour cream is cool.


We also have lots for vegetarians and a freshly cooked junior menu  so we can satisfy everyone’s appetite.


Everyone is welcome at Zaks and all our restaurants are neighbourhood based, we really value the importance of the communities around us. We buy locally; get involved in local community events and schools as well as supporting local charities. All of our teams are local and of course we love our loyal local customers and we also love meeting new visitors.


There is a love and passion for Zaks and we love sharing that love with you.


So come and see us some time to kick back and relax, celebrate a special occasion, have that first date or just pop in for a quicky.


See you soon.


P.S Did I mention our milkshakes  are awesome and made with local Aldous ice cream….