We love getting to know the people behind the businesses in this amazing city. We caught up with Nabil and Alessandro of Plantopia:
1. What prompted the start of the business?
Last year I was running a street-food business in Central London and Alessandro was finishing his final year of a business management degree. In March all trade stopped on the food markets (due to covid restrictions) and Alessandro had begun looking for work in a stagnant job market. As well as being business minded he is also a great Italian (and all round) chef so I persuaded him to start a food business with me.
We had both been on a plant-based diet for a year and felt that we never never had any good options for takeaway. Plant-Based meals seemed to be be an afterthought on most menus and they weren’t generally appealing (to us).
We decided to put our heads together to create something that we felt we would offer the choices that we were craving.
Last, but definitely not least, we both had grown up with a love for food nurtured by 2 mothers who are incredible chefs, so a nod definitely has to go to them for the ORIGINAL inspiration.
2. What does your business offer its customers?
Our mission is to offer a varied menu of non ‘traditional’ vegan food which, number 1, is full of flavour; and I think that we have succeeded!
We always endeavour to source only the freshest ingredients, and make sure that our ingredients come from both fair trade and sustainable sources (even down to the packaging materials).
This is all tied together with a friendly service!
3. What kind of customers do you work with? Are there any types of businesses you collaborate well with?
Our customers are all so different from each other and it makes it wonderful to deal with them each day. We have families, young couples, vegans, non-vegans, teenagers, retirees…and everything in between!
One thing that our customers do have in common is that they have great attitudes and encouragement towards our new business. We were told by other business owners that the St Albans crowd is a lovely bunch to work with, and they were not wrong! We are lucky to be able to set up shop here and even luckier to call it our home town.
We have spoken to many other food traders (both in restaurants & on the market) and they have been great with advice. We collaborate well with other vegetarians and vegan bloggers online of course, but we have found that any local business, food or non food, can be a great collaborator. In a town such as St Albans there is only healthy competition and everybody boosts everybody else up.
4. What’s the toughest part of running your business?
Probably maintaining the home/work balance. My partner and I live together and now work together too, and sometimes we have to remember to switch off and just make time for ourselves too.
5. What piece of advice could you give to another business owners?
To be as organised as possible from the beginning. It will pay off massively down the line. Also to not get too insular and don’t be afraid to ask around for help. I am always surprised at the amount of help, sometimes absolute strangers offer, just to help somebody else to do well.
Find out more or order your delicious vegan takeaway here (pick up from Avenue Rd, St Albans AL1 3QD , just off Sandpit Lane, or they deliver within a 3 mile radius of St Albans – see image)