Starting A Vegan Food Prep Business

Reading Time: 6 minutes

‘I can’t believe they didn’t bring out the mircha!’ I complained as my mum told me to calm down.

‘Don’t worry Deepak I’m sure they’ll be here in a minute!’.

‘3 minutes went by as I saw cokes being served at other tables, as well as orders being taken’.

‘Excuse me?’ Ah yes, sir how can I help?

‘The green chillies?’ Ah yes sir they’re just coming sir, they’ll be with you right away.

Another two minutes passed and finally, some chillies came out, 3 washed green chillies in a small metal bowl.

Green Chilli

I thanked him as he put the chillies down and said, trying to thinly conceal my anger – ‘Can we get some more – maybe 10 or so? There are 5 of us here – so 3 certainly won’t be enough

‘Ah yes, sure straight away sir!’.

As I took one of the chillies and my mum took one, then my auntie said ‘are they any good?’, I quickly bit into the chilli and studied the seeds inside the green outer casing I’d just torn off.

‘The seeds looked a little stale and one of two of them was slightly black from having been kept too long.

I then searched for the spice within my mouth.

Nothing much happened.

‘No, no they’re not hot at all really’.

I bit further and faster into the rest of the chilli to try and capture at least some spice from its seeds before I would sink my teeth hopefully into the chilli that were to come.

Frustrated once again, I had to wait for 5 minutes with what was steaming hot Indian food, just the way I liked it from Lily Tandoori, which was definitely no longer piping hot because I’d needed to wait a full 5 minutes and just stare at my food whilst the others all sank into their meals.

‘Why don’t you just eat your food as you wait for the chillis, Deepak?’ My mum asked, tucking in.

‘Well I asked for chillies with the original order, but they didn’t bring them out, then I asked a second time and it took a whole 5-minutes – which is forever when you have hot food in front of you, and even then they didn’t bring enough. I asked for enough for the table with the original order! And the reason I asked for it initially is that I want to have it with the actual food as it comes out – not to eat my food and then eat the chillies separately. Nor to wait and then eat lukewarm food with the chillies. And now we only have three chillies between five –

‘Four!’ Daniela exclaimed

She was right, she would not eat any chillies whatsoever.

‘Now we only have 3 chillies between four of us – we need to ration them whilst we wait for the next batch and god knows whether they’ll actually bring those chillies out on time either!’.

I paused to breathe. My mum paused and said ‘well yeh I understand, but you have to accept it – that’s just the way these things are sometimes’.

____________________

‘Do you remember that amore?!’

We were wandering beside Lake Como the day after my birthday enjoying the stunning scenery as we went for one of our long walks.

She laughed.

‘Si I do remember, you’re such a pain in the arse’ she laughed

‘I’d hate to serve you!’.

Laughing, I replied well ‘hey I just want good service – and around the world, no matter where we go – it seems impossible to find!’.

‘You just have unreasonable expectations’.

‘I absolutely do! I’m paying’.

‘I’m going to open a restaurant I think’.

‘You’re still determined to open this restaurant are you?’.

‘Well look I obviously don’t know food, but I understand customer service and I understand marketing – the rest I can learn along the way!’

‘It’s going to be Indian food – naturally! And I’m going to call it Sita’s Way – because I’m going to ask my mum to prepare some of the recipes based upon what she cooks at home!’

And so part of my birthday trip at Lake Como was spent daydreaming and discussing this restaurant I’d like to begin.

Once I returned home from Italy, I fired into action, asking multiple people that I knew if they understood anything about the food business or knew anyone that did.

I soon got into detailed conversations with my friend Salim, who’d run several restaurants himself, alongside my good friend Zurab’s fiance Kat, who’d run a cafe in Italy herself, and then another chap Charlie Bolton – whom a good friend Nick Ellison introduced me to.

Between all of them, and after discussions with my mother and ‘Sita’s Way’…it looked like it was really going to be a 2021 idea that I could execute. I’d need around £75,000 in capital and I’d need time to save this to execute it.

This at least gave me time to think about all of the setups, and equipment as well as even start something on a smaller scale.

‘What can I do now, that’s a good dry run for the restaurant’.

Then more options started to come into mind.

Popup stalls, market stalls, and a food van, and I began to toy with all of these ideas. Then there was the possibility of perhaps running a ‘dark kitchen’ – i.e a kitchen that’s only for takeaway and delivery and nothing else.

And finally, I pondered.

These other options certainly seemed more cost-effective.

As I sat there, the buzzer rang at my flat in Fulham.

‘Bzzzzzzzz’.

‘Flat 7!’

‘Delivery’

I buzzed them in knowing it was my vegetarian food from Key To Food – the food prep service that I used.

As the food came in I sat there and stared at it – and then that’s when it all came together.

I mean. I had been with these guys for several weeks and really enjoyed their food – heck I’d even written a blog post about them and also had written something for their blog.

Recently I’d asked them to switch me to All Vegetarian – they’d done so and it’d been excellent – my non-meat intake had absolutely gone up.

I messaged my friend Salim to discuss this.

Of all of the people I’d spoken to about my ideas – there had been two people that had provided the most insight by far. Katherine, Zurab’s fiance was amazing – we had a detailed 30-minute conversation about this.

Salim and I had been swapping voice notes back and forth and he’d been very forthcoming with all of the insights he had.

And then I asked him about his thoughts regarding a food preparation business.

His thoughts were…I want in!

We immediately met up to discuss the whole concept in more detail to try and understand how we could work together as business partners.

And very quickly, the decision was made and then we were business partners.

It’s been a few weeks and already it’s exciting times for this business – we’re doing our best to document as much as we can of the development moving forward – you can check out our YouTube Playlist for more:

Chefs And Kitchen Video

We’ve interviewed multiple chefs, are on the lookout for a videographer, have identified a kitchen and are having our first test day actually tomorrow (at the time of writing).

We have a social media manager, a designer, a web developer, a research analyst, a head copywriter, a podcast host, an admin manager, a chef, and Salim and me – so from day 1, we have a team of 10 people working to make this vision a reality which is incredibly exciting.

Our main competitor All Plants, brothers, has been able to raise £10 million within just a couple of years of starting their company. We intend to bootstrap for the first 3-6 months, and develop a strong brand and presence and grow organically as quickly as we can.

It’s really an exciting time for me after waiting for months and months for development teams to deliver upon their promise with no real returns, or perhaps my own lack of experience at times – but with https://plantsumo.com/ as it’s a product I am in more operational control of – I really think we can deliver something special.

Let’s see what the future holds for us – but it’s definitely an exciting time for this fledgeling business and I truly believe that within 1-2 years it can easily be bigger than Pearl Lemon.

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