Starting a food stall

Interview with...

Adwoa & Lloyd
Age:
27 & 28
CV:
Adwoa was a student and part-time chef, and Lloyd was a software engineer
Business name:
Jollof Pot
Goods/services:
Ghanaian food stalls
Location:
Three stalls around London
Trading for:
Three years
Jollof Pot catering staff at function

Jollof staff serve at a function


Adwoa, you were a chef at a Ghanaian restaurant before this…

Adwoa: Yeah. I was between courses at university, and dilly-dallying at different jobs, when the opportunity came up at a West African restaurant.

Before I joined they were doing sandwiches – not very authentic – and I introduced a new menu

Before I joined they were doing sandwiches – not very authentic – and I introduced a new menu. It was successful for a while after that, but it wasn’t managed very well so it eventually went out of business.

So we decided to do our own thing.

LLOYD

And Lloyd, it was quite a change to go from software engineering to running a food stall…

Lloyd: Well we enjoyed entertaining people, having them round for dinner.

We also wanted to be in control of our destiny – so starting this business brought these two things together.

We tested the water by starting a stall in Hackney, for just one day a week. I was working in Rugby at the time, so I’d just come down for a weekend, just so we could get a feel for if this was something we could do full-time.

We had a really good response, and Adwoa was the first to quit her job.

Adwoa: Before Jollof Pot, it was quite hard to hold a job down. I was an international student paying a lot of fees and I kept on dropping out of my courses.

I worked everywhere, even in McDonalds! I worked in IT recruitment, but it was too cut-throat. You also get micromanaged and I hate people looking over my shoulder all the time.

As soon as this opportunity came along, I went part-time. I remember saying to Lloyd, “Quit your job! Quit your job!” But it wasn’t as easy as that, because for him it meant giving up a career.

Having given up a well-paid career, Lloyd, was it hard making ends meet at first?

Lloyd: We didn’t have savings or anything, but because we started slowly it was a lot smoother than it probably is for most people.

Adwoa: Yeah, Lloyd was still working full-time and I was still part-time, and we didn’t have a mortgage or kids. I would say to people that if you haven’t got those ties, then go for it.

How many people do you employ now?

Lloyd: There are three us. We hire agency people as well when we do large events.

Adwoa: It seems to me that when you are a small business, hiring agency staff is the most affordable way.

ADWOA

We started in Lloyd’s mother’s kitchen, and she brought a bit of authenticity to the business. Now we have an industrial kitchen facility for the prepping.

We are also a catering company and get catering contracts during the week.

How big a proportion of your business is corporate, festival and wedding catering?

Lloyd: It’s a seasonal thing with the festivals: during summer they’re a large percentage of the business.

Adwoa: I think we did about a festival a week for about three months.

Lloyd: But the market stalls tends to provide a steady flow of income, all-year-round. Weddings and business lunches are still substantial as well, but they’re also a bit more sporadic.

Are we seeing the slow demise of the sandwich as the lunch of choice?

Lloyd: The sandwich will always be there, but I think that with people travelling more and seeing different cultures, people are up for trying different types of things.

Adwoa: When we started it was difficult – people couldn’t get into their heads around the idea of full-on hot food at lunchtime. Slowly but surely, though, we have turned people around.

Do you think you would have started Jollof Pot if the restaurant you worked at had kept going?

Adwoa: Definitely.

I just wanted to learn as much as I could, and then do my own thing. I learnt a lot – including how not to run a business!

We also learnt what customers want.

For instance, we do vegetarian options now, even though, traditionally, Ghanaian food would always have meat in it.

Lloyd: We did a bit of research around Hackney and we knew there were tons of vegetarians. So from day one we always had at least one vegetarian option.

Do you experiment with the menu much?

Adwoa: We tend to experiment with special offers, every other day.

We’re thinking about doing a rabbit stew and guinea fowl.

Lloyd: Just to keep it interesting.

Is there much Ghanaian cuisine around in London?

Adwoa: Yes, but it tends to be in Ghanaian areas like Dalston and Tottenham. We wanted to bring Ghanaian food to a wider audience.

Lloyd: People say, “why Ghanaian food? It’s too specific”. People are a bit lazy in their understanding of Africa: they think it’s all the same.

That was a motivation – to do something specifically Ghanaian, to show that there are differences.

I don’t think there are any Ghanaian stalls in London.

 

 

20 comments about this article

comment by ahmed
Hi Adwoa Hi Lloyd,i am looking to start a food stall to the market. am a little bit confuse as to where to start and how much roughly will I need for all the licences and insurance. I have recently lost my job and wondering if it is feasible without much saving.my idea is a quick simple 1 or 2 receipy from east Africa.
comment by ravi roshan
hi i m ravi from india .i m doing a project on starting a business .i m planning to start a mordern dhaba in ranchi .so could u plz help me with the info about how to go about .... reply soon ......
comment by anurag garg
please guide me how to start a food stall and what the difficulties which i can face in the starting . i am asking for the diffficulties cause if i know them then i can overcome of them hoping for a favourable response
comment by loan
When you're in the corner and have no money to move out from that, you will have to receive the business loans. Just because it would aid you definitely. I get student loan every single year and feel good just because of this.
comment by latif london
hi im latif,30 yers i have my stall in nw in london and im salling coked fish on nice way and my cosrumers are huppy with the way i marrenit fish with my special spayces, and now im thinking of making othere 5 stalls at difrent markets in londonif any 1 wanna help with any advices wel be morthen welcom and thwnks latifjeaidi@goolemail.com
comment by mohamed kashif
hi, i wanna start a small food stall in india.. cud u pls guide me how to get started.. i mean d procedure step by step.. also about legal license and registration and branding and so on.. pls.. wud be really greatful.. thank you
comment by Abhishek Mehta
Hi, I am 22 years and work for a company, I earn around 12000 Indian Rupees per month... Now i want to start a small food stall on the road kindly guide me
comment by Adam Bannister
Thanks for your comment, Alan. I can’t personally advise you on this but I suspect the Market Traders Federation (<a href="www.nmtf.co.uk)" rel="nofollow">www.nmtf.co.uk)</a>, the Nationwide Caterers Association (<a href="www.ncass.org.uk)" rel="nofollow">www.ncass.org.uk)</a> and your local council, who can advise on renting a pitch, will be able to help.
comment by Alan Stonelake
Hi Guys really inspired by your story. Just need to know Do I have to take out public liability insurance to run a food stall? and do I need any certification to be legal?
comment by Anand Pawar
Hi, I am 24years and work for a company, I earn around 15000 Indian Rupees per month... I had a dream to setup a small hotel or a food stall, however once I decide to start my business many of my friends say that I either need to have around 20 lacks rupees to start or need to have lots of experience.... I m really having a dream to have my own hotel or a Dhaba, however as I said you I m having less money to invest in the business... Could you please help me so that I can fulfill my dream.... any information would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. Anand Pawar.
comment by Anand Pawar
Hi, I am 24years and work for a company, I earn around 15000 Indian Rupees per month... I had a dream to setup a small hotel or a food stall, however once I decide to start my business many of my friends say that I either need to have around 20 lacks rupees to start or need to have lots of experience.... I m really having a dream to have my own hotel or a Dhaba, however as I said you I m having less money to invest in the business... Could you please help me so that I can fulfill my dream.... any information would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. Anand Pawar.
comment by julie haria
Hi there.Can you tell me if you need a license for food stalls in the uk?
comment by Chintan
hi, i am engineer, i have worked in sales and business development field for 3 years in media stream, but above all i am foody and i want to start a food stall, i am in india-gujarat-ahmedabad, want to know from you how should i move about in this field, guide me with points and attributes required to be taken care of, waiting for your reply. regards.
comment by Chintan
hi, i am engineer, i have worked in sales and business development field for 3 years in media stream, but above all i am foody and i want to start a food stall, i am in india-gujarat-ahmedabad, want to know from you how should i move about in this field, guide me with points and attributes required to be taken care of, waiting for your reply. regards.
comment by Adam Bannister
I'd recommend getting in touch with the Market Traders Federation at www.nmtf.co.uk, the Nationwide Caterers Association at www.ncass.org.uk and your local council to find out about renting a pitch, food hygiene regulations, etc...
comment by Ike Chukwudinma
First and foremost, congratulations in the sucess of your company. It is difficult to start up any sort of business, especially food! I would also like to break into this market, but I would like to start of with a simple product in order to get a clearer response. I have many ideas. Just want to know how you got it together in terms of the rules and regulation side of things. This would help enhance my understand before taking a risk without the advice of people such as yourselves. Many thanks and just keep up the good work! Ike.
comment by vartika
please guide me how to start a food stall and what the difficulties which i can face in the starting . i am asking for the diffficulties cause if i know them then i can overcome of them hoping for a favourable response
comment by Sav
Hello I have been so inspired by your story i have an idea for a food stall but just don't know how to go about it...if you can guide me a little in reagrds to the rules of food prep and storing at the venue or stall i would be so grateful for your help.
comment by FAROOQ BANGASH
Hello Adowa and Lloyd, Having read your script of how successful you are, I request if you can guide me as to how can I obtain a license for road side stall or cabin in the busy areas of London. Please guide me.
comment by MAZHARUL ISLAM
Hellow,Adwoa and Lloyd,hope u r fine.I want tom start a food business.I read all the things from both of ur stall.Please help me to start food stall of ur company brand.Please send an e-mail to my address.

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