20 April 2021 #Food and Restaurants
During the coronavirus pandemic many have turned to the kitchen during lockdown. While pastime for most, others have looked to turn this into a new business opportunity. Kiran Malik a new Commercial Property Solicitor at Clarkslegal discusses the issues she had to overcome when setting up a family food business during lockdown.
Why did you decide to start a food business?
Having a small family of my own, I was trying to think how best I could keep the morale up and do something together. I have always had a passion for cooking, so I thought why not bring a taste of Pakistan to Surrey. I set out to put together ideas on how it would be both enjoyable and viable.
Did you have a business plan?
Yes, as I soon realised there are a lot of factors to consider when setting up something of this nature; public liability insurance, registration of the business, food hygiene certificate, building insurance to cover using the property as a form of business, are just some of the things we had to consider.
We set about choosing a name for the business and who we would target and when. We would target local residents and have a set menu in place which would be released early on in the week. Food would be delivered on Saturday night between set hours. Getting this right was important, as both myself and my partner were working full-time and juggling home schooling.
What were the costs involved?
We began costing everything. From the time it would take to cook the items and the cost of the gas to the cost of packaging and ingredients for each item. We costed each portion to forecast the profit that could be made, but honestly it was more about bringing our family and the community together than profit, however we all know that a business does need to be viable for it to work.
How did you start trading?
We had two options on how we would trade, either by setting up a limited company or as a sole trader. Public liability insurance for sole traders can be more costly and the risks associated with being sole trader deterred us from setting the business this way, so we chose to set up a company. It is pretty easy to do and the guidance is available on the government website. There was just a small fee to pay of £12.
We then contacted the Local Authority, who were very supportive of the idea and sent through their key requirements; registration of the business address, checking if we had two sinks nearby and steps we would take to avoid cross-contamination and so on
What were the requirements for food hygiene?
Due to COVID the hygiene visits from the Local Authority were on hold, but they emphasised the important of completing the relevant food and hygiene course, which are all readily available online. I booked on with a local company and spent the next couple of days reading the materials and sitting the assessment.
I got my certificate through within a couple of days. I learnt a lot from the course and how important it was to have certain steps in place. A key one was making sure a risk assessment was carried out in the kitchen and also a risk assessment carried out before food was made and after.
When did you start operating?
The formality checklist was near complete and now all that was left to do was purchase the items and focus on marketing. We created a logo, a brand for our business and printed leaflets stickers, questionnaires and set a sample menu to deliver to the residents. The feedback was great and a date was set for the launch.
We set up an Instagram page and started posting and blogging or culinary skills. We sent samples on 22 June 2020 and our official launch date was 18 July 2020. It then became a weekly event at our house.
What did you learn?
The importance of ensuring your business adheres to local authority policies, a key plan in place for all eventualities, making sure you plan the routes for the deliveries (this was a key one) and reaching out to advisors whether that be legal advisors or the local authority department.
Would you have done anything differently?
In terms of practicality, I would have made sure the food was prepped beforehand. For example, we used a lot of onions in our dishes. So having them peeled and sliced early in the week and frozen (so they remain fresh) would have reduced the time we actually spent in the kitchen on the day.
I would have chosen a smaller demographic as we found ourselves spending too much time delivering the food and result in an increase in costs. Other than that, it was a great idea to bring the family together and also boost the morale for the local residents.
At Clarkslegal we are passionate about food and restaurants. Visit our sector page for more details or contact one of our real estate solicitors.