Lucy Pedder and Natasha Cooke of Lupins in London's Flat Iron Square speak to Jennie Milsom about launching Lupins at Home and their new deli, due to open in July
What have been the biggest challenges for the business since lockdown?
The biggest challenge has been not being allowed to open as a restaurant, which is what we are! Also, not knowing what will happen to our loyal and lovely staff, whom we are trying to protect as best we can. It is so difficult to plan right now when no one knows what the future holds and what the new world post-Covid-19 will look like.
It is so difficult to plan right now when no one knows what the future holds and what the new world post-Covid-19 will look like
What have you been focusing on during the past few weeks?
We've been looking to find an affordable way to slowly return, trying to rework the space that used to thrive as a buzzing restaurant and thinking about how to make a new workable business model. We're both pretty strong-headed and we're ploughing on as best we can.
What made you decide to launch Lupins at Home?
With lockdown having eased slightly, more people are out and about and they seem less nervous about ordering food now compared to the very beginning. Also, after three months of not making a penny and with rent to pay on the restaurant, we need to start looking at what money we can realistically make with our new business model. We have to test the waters.
How has your business model changed?
We are now offering a delivery and collection service, where customers can enjoy a set menu with a few à la carte options at home. The meals are prepared by us, with the diner finishing the meal in their own home.
It's a challenge as we're still navigating how much food we need to order. We want to be careful about unnecessary food waste, from a cost perspective as well as the environmental aspect.
Tell us a bit more about the delivery service…
The radius is about four to five miles, although we can be flexible as we're doing deliveries ourselves at the moment, so it could eventually increase. A lot will depend on how many orders we get and in which areas we get interest. We're also looking to use Deliveroo very soon.
What kind of feedback have you had from customers who pick up food in person?
The feedback so far has been wonderful. Four out of five customers are regulars so it has been lovely to see each other again after all this time.
How did the new menu come about?
It was designed with delivery in mind. We wanted to create a way for our customers to enjoy the same delicious Lupins dishes but they needed to travel well, store well and cook well. It was no good cooking a steak, for example, that would be dry and cold by the time it was delivered.
Has it been difficult getting hold of specialist ingredients during lockdown?
We have remained in constant contact with our suppliers and we just have to adapt to their new delivery schedule. The same fish suppliers that deliver to London are still delivering, just slightly less frequently.
Tell us about the new deli and kitchen shop you're planning to open at the beginning of July
It will be on our current Lupins restaurant site and it will be a deli offering of delicious quiches and colourful salads with seasonal ingredients and freshly baked bread and wines, as well as the current Lupins at Home offering. There may also be a chance to hire our room upstairs for supper clubs or private parties.
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