Is urban plates only in California?

Urban Plates is a fast casual restaurant chain that originated in California but has expanded to other states beyond California. While the majority of Urban Plates locations are still within California, the restaurant chain now has locations in several other states as well.

Quick Answer

No, Urban Plates is not only located in California. While the chain originated in California and has the most locations in the state, there are now Urban Plates restaurants in Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado as well.

Urban Plates History

Urban Plates first opened in Del Mar, California in 2011 by co-founders John Ghysels and Saad Nadhir. Ghysels and Nadhir set out to create a fast casual restaurant that served food made with high quality, sustainably sourced ingredients.

The first location was successful, and over the next few years, Urban Plates expanded to more spots in San Diego County and other parts of Southern California. By 2015, there were 9 Urban Plates locations, all within California.

Expansion Outside California Begins

In 2016, Urban Plates began expanding outside of California by opening a location in Henderson, Nevada. This marked the chain’s first move into another state. More out-of-state locations followed in the next few years.

Here is a timeline of when Urban Plates opened its first location in states besides California:

  • 2016 – Henderson, Nevada
  • 2018 – Chandler, Arizona
  • 2019 – Bellevue, Washington
  • 2021 – Centennial, Colorado

Current Locations

As of November 2022, there are over 30 Urban Plates locations total. California still has the highest concentration of locations, but Urban Plates has an established presence in 4 other states as well.

Here is a breakdown of how many Urban Plates locations are currently open in each state:

State Number of Locations
California 24
Nevada 3
Arizona 3
Washington 2
Colorado 1

So while California continues to be the state with the most Urban Plates locations, the restaurant chain has grown beyond its West Coast roots over the past several years. Urban Plates now has locations spanning the Western and Southwestern United States.

Future Expansion Plans

Urban Plates has indicated that further expansion to new states and regions is part of their long-term growth strategy. In 2021, the company received a significant investment from private equity firm Sonoma Brands. Part of the reported strategy with this investment is using the capital to open more restaurant locations throughout the U.S.

Some areas and states that Urban Plates has been rumored to be targeting for future expansion include:

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Mid-Atlantic region
  • Midwest region

CEO Saad Nadhir said in an interview last year that Urban Plates plans to eventually grow into a national brand across the U.S. He estimated it could take 5-7 years to achieve a truly nationwide footprint.

While the Western and Southwestern states will likely continue seeing the most Urban Plates growth in the short term, expansion to other regions of the country does seem to be part of the long term plan.


In summary, while Urban Plates got its start in California and still has the most locations there, it is no longer exclusively a California-based restaurant chain. After expanding to 4 other states since 2016, Urban Plates now has locations in the Western and Southwestern U.S. The company plans to gradually expand to other regions in the coming years with the goal of becoming a national brand. So within the next decade or so, it is very possible Urban Plates will have locations across the U.S. and not just in California.

The first Urban Plates opening in another state was in 2016 in Nevada. Since then, further expansion has brought Urban Plates restaurants to Arizona, Washington, and Colorado. While the majority of the 30+ current locations remain in California, the chain has established a growing presence outside of its original home state as well.

Urban Plates appears to still be in the relatively early stages of its national expansion. The restaurant chain seems committed to gradually growing in new states and regions over the coming years. Opening locations beyond California is crucial for Urban Plates to achieve its goal of becoming a nationwide brand.

In conclusion, Urban Plates is no longer exclusively located in California, though the state does still contain the bulk of its locations. With strategic nationwide expansion plans in place, the Urban Plates footprint beyond California will likely continue growing in the years ahead.

The days of Urban Plates being only a California-based restaurant chain are over. While California remains its core market, Urban Plates has successfully expanded to 4 other states in the Western and Southwestern U.S. over the past several years. And if its growth plans are achieved, Urban Plates will eventually have locations across the country, transforming from a California chain to a national fast casual brand.

So in summary:

  • Urban Plates originated in California in 2011 and remained exclusively in the state until 2016
  • The chain now has locations in Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado besides California
  • California still has the highest concentration of locations with 24
  • Long term expansion plans aim to establish a nationwide footprint for Urban Plates

For a restaurant chain that started in California just over a decade ago, Urban Plates has made significant progress expanding to new states while remaining rooted in its original California locations. The chain seems poised to continue growing beyond California in the years to come as part of its goal of becoming a national brand.

Urban Plates opening its first location outside California in 2016 marked a major milestone for the chain. No longer just a California restaurant, this initial expansion set the foundation for further multi-state growth in the coming years.

With strategic investments and a long-term vision of establishing a nationwide footprint, Urban Plates does appear well on its way to achieving its expansion goals. While California will likely always be considered the brand’s home state, its presence and recognition in other states will continue increasing as more locations open across the country.

For anyone who assumes Urban Plates must only be located in California, the reality is that the restaurant chain now has multiple locations in Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Colorado and counting. With more out-of-state locations undoubtedly coming soon, the brand’s reach now extends far beyond California just a decade after first opening.

The Urban Plates expansion outside of California demonstrates how quickly a restaurant chain can broaden its geographical footprint when planned strategically. In just 7 years since opening its first out-of-state restaurant, Urban Plates went from being a California exclusive brand to having locations spanning the Western U.S. This relatively fast strategic growth provides a model for regional chains with aspirations to become national.

Impact on Brand Identity

While Urban Plates originated as a California-based brand, its identity is gradually shifting as it expands to more states. As it opens locations from the West Coast to the Rocky Mountains and beyond, Urban Plates becomes less defined by its California roots.

Some impacts expanding beyond California may have on the brand’s identity include:

  • Less association with California cuisine/culture specifically
  • Potentially viewed as a Western U.S. brand rather than just California
  • Opportunity to highlight use of regionally-sourced ingredients in new markets
  • Revised marketing strategy that deemphasizes California origins
  • Shift to being seen as a national fast casual chain rather than West Coast chain

Urban Plates will need to continue evolving its branding to reflect its growing national presence. While the California origins can remain an important part of the story, the identity will need to expand to feel inclusive of its diverse customers and locations around the country.

Maintaining Consistent Experience

One important priority for Urban Plates as it grows will be maintaining a consistent customer experience across all locations, regardless of state. This includes keeping the same:

  • Menu items
  • Quality of food
  • Restaurant design and decor
  • Service standards

Even as the brand identity shifts to become more nationally-focused, customers should still expect the same Urban Plates experience whether they visit a location in California, Nevada, Arizona or elsewhere. Holding true to their core values around quality ingredients and hospitality will help in preserving brand consistency.

Adapting Brand Messaging

As it expands to more states, Urban Plates will need to ensure its brand messaging resonates across its growing customer base. Emphasizing the brand’s roots while also evolving language to be inclusive of all locations will be a balancing act.

Some ways its messaging may shift include:

  • Talking more about sourcing from partners in multiple states vs. just California
  • Using imagery and language reflective of different regions, not just Southern California locale
  • Focusing on values and attributes that appeal to broad national audience
  • Aligning influencer/celebrity partnerships to those with national or regional appeal

Updating brand messaging to reflect a more national identity while maintaining the original essence of the brand will enable Urban Plates to appeal to both longtime and new customers alike.

Maintaining Quality & Values

Urban Plates was founded on principles of sustainability, quality ingredients, and strong hospitality. As it expands to new states, upholding these values in every location will enable the brand to maintain credibility and trust.

Some ways Urban Plates can maintain its quality standards include:

  • Consistent protocols for sourcing and preparing ingredients
  • Ongoing training for chefs and staff
  • Kitchen layouts optimized for efficient cooking and plating
  • Rigorous food safety practices
  • Guidelines for engaging customer service
  • Recipes and menus optimized for each region

Every customer should feel confident they’ll receive a great-tasting meal and hospitable service, whether they visit Urban Plates in California or halfway across the country. This commitment to consistent quality will bolster the brand’s reputation.

Targeting Strategic Markets

Urban Plates will need to be strategic in choosing where to expand next. Opening new locations in markets that fit the target customer demographic can help amplify growth.

Some factors to consider when selecting future markets may include:

  • Household income – Target middle to upper-middle income regions
  • Education levels – Locations near colleges/universities could perform well
  • Competing brands – Areas without a lot of fast casual chains present opportunities
  • Food trends – Locations where nutrition and sustainability are priorities
  • Population density – Urban and suburban areas likely better fits than rural
  • Accessibility – Areas with public transportation and ample parking

Leveraging demographic data, consumer trends, and competitive analysis can help Urban Plates choose new markets with greater potential for success as it moves into new regions.

Opening New Market Profitability

Expanding to new states comes with risks and added costs for restaurant chains. Opening profitable locations with sustainable sales levels is key.

Some strategies Urban Plates can employ to improve profitability in new markets include:

  • Negotiating favorable lease terms for inaugural locations in new states
  • Running pre-opening marketing campaigns to build local buzz
  • Partnering with local farms, breweries, etc for initial launch
  • Offering special deals to attract and retain customers
  • Projecting realistic sales volumes for newer markets vs established
  • Adding menu items tailored to regional tastes
  • Hiring local managers familiar with the area

A smart market entry strategy focused on what drives profitability in a new region can set Urban Plates up for longer-term success as it expands nationwide.

Potential Challenges

Expanding a restaurant brand nationally comes with inevitable challenges and risks. Some potential issues Urban Plates may need to navigate with its nationwide growth include:

  • Maintaining food quality – Sourcing ingredients and training cooks across wider supply chains
  • Adapting recipes – Tweaking recipes while retaining core brand standards
  • Complex operations – Managing more locations across greater distances
  • Market competition – Facing off against entrenched regional chains
  • Talent acquisition – Hiring qualified staff in new regions
  • Consumer perception – Overcoming associations as just a California brand

However, Urban Plates has an experienced leadership team that likely anticipated these kinds of challenges. With smart planning and execution, nationwide expansion can successfully happen despite common growing pains.

Evolution of the Brand

As Urban Plates grows across the U.S., the brand will inevitably evolve. What started as a California chain will gradually become a national player in the fast casual industry.

Some of the key ways the brand is likely to evolve include:

  • A broader, more mainstream appeal vs. a regional brand identity
  • A wider range of menu options tailored to local tastes
  • More diverse and value-driven marketing reflective of a national audience
  • A culture focused on consistency and operational excellence across state lines
  • An emphasis on technology and innovation to drive efficiency and growth

While the core mission will stay the same, Urban Plates will – out of necessity – steadily evolve as it scales nationwide. Change is inevitable as brands grow, but it will enable Urban Plates to thrive in new markets coast to coast.


In summary, Urban Plates originated as a California-based restaurant chain but has since expanded to locations in Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Colorado and more states soon likely to come. While California remains its strongest market, the brand is now establishing itself as a fast casual chain across the Western U.S. and beyond.

Nationwide expansion appears to be a key long-term goal for Urban Plates. This growth beyond its California roots will bring both opportunities and challenges for the brand. However, by staying true to its quality, service, and values – while also evolving its identity and execution – Urban Plates is primed for success as a national chain.

So is Urban Plates only in California? Not anymore. While the majority of locations remain in its home state, Urban Plates has successfully begun expanding its geographical footprint over the past several years. With ambitions to become a nationwide brand, expect to see Urban Plates continue opening more restaurants outside of California for years to come.

Leave a Comment