Where did the idea for The Green Grill come from? Were you previously working in the food industry?
I’ve worked in hospitality my whole life. I lived in Spain for 22 years where I ran a beach club and then worked as a hospitality consultant for bars and restaurants. I then moved to Dubai where I was eating 800 grams of steak every day until I visited a slaughterhouse and it changed my perception. I realised we could no longer profit off this treatment of animals, so I quit my life in Dubai and came home to open a vegan food business. Robbie was working in the meat delivery industry and is now vegan too. We came up with a product that aimed to attract both vegans and meat eaters. We know people buy with their eyes, so we created colourful burgers and hot dogs that are vegan and healthy.
What is it that gives your food such vibrant colours?
There are no artificial colours in our food. The reds are from beetroot, the greens are from matcha, the yellows are from turmeric and the blacks are bamboo charcoal. A lot of people turn vegan and eat junk food as they don’t know what’s available. The Green Grill’s menu looks like junk food but it’s all healthy.
Are customers surprised by how healthy it is?
They are! There’s no deep-frying involved, and all patties are made from beans and veg. We wanted our food to provide nutritional benefits to customers. Matcha, for example, is an antioxidant, beetroot is an anti-inflammatory, turmeric aids digestion and charcoal lowers cholesterol.
Your business branding is really effective, along with your slogan ‘Branding Buns Not Animals’. Where did the concept come from?
It came from the fact that in the meat industry, animals are branded and eventually slaughtered. We wanted to bring awareness to this issue by being subtle and without preaching. We branded our burger buns with The Green Grill logo and it became a talking point with customers from the beginning.
Have you noticed an increase in customer interest in vegan foods?
Yes, definitely. We’re just been trading at a 17-day event – the Eat & Drink festival at the Ideal Home Show – which has never had a 100% vegan caterer before. We were in the top 4 most popular units of the 22 caterers trading there. 70% of our customers are meat eaters and meat eaters often find it hard to transition to vegan foods. When they find our products, they realise there are other healthy options that don’t include meat.
What is the most popular item on your menu?
The Green Monster. It’s a burger in a matcha bun. The patty is made from sun-dried tomatoes, peas, broccoli, spinach and red bell peppers. We can also add vegan cheese made from coconut oil.
What is your favourite item on the menu to prepare and cook?
The V-dawg. It’s a hand-rolled sausage made from garlic, oregano, seitan and cannellini beans.
What’s in the pipeline for The Green Grill?
We’ve only been trading for 4 months and we’ve already got 5 thousand followers on Instagram and we’re frequently trading at three locations on the same day. Our container is now open in Walthamstow and we’ll also be on Uber Eats (the food delivery service). We’re going to be trading at big festivals and events this year, as well as vegan-only food events. In the next year we want to open a second location of The Green Grill, and we’re looking to start our franchise by 2020.
How has NCASS helped your business since you became a member?
Right from the start NCASS have helped with licensing and set-up. Penny has been an amazing help with equipment! They’ve also helped on a daily basis with questions we’ve had. They’ve solved and prevented problems for us too.
What advice would you give to a start-up business?
My advice would be make sure that you have a concept and stick to that concept. The most important thing is to know the USP of your brand and product. This is what will help you to stand out from others in the business.