Imagine If You Can't Have Anything To Eat or Drink
- 15% of people have lactose/dairy intolerance
- While 1% of people are coeliac (ie gluten allergy), statistics show that a further 20% of the UK population have gluten intolerance
- 2% of people are vegetarian with a further 1% being vegan. Veganism is the fastest growing food trend in the UK
- It is estimated that 1 in 5 people are on diets due to concerns about food intolerance or allergy rather than a desire to lose weight
- Restaurant choices are severely limited based on "without" instead of "alternatives"
Our aim of this project is to expand our vision of having a high quality eatery for those who can't have gluten, dairy, meat products or have other food intolerance and allergies, and provide food that everyone can eat. This project focusses on creating and establishing three sustainable segments (Cafe, Trade Bakery and Outside Catering) which will support and guide the opening of new outlets
About the business
The Intolerant Wife is a well-established cafe-restaurant with an ethos of Food for Everyone. Established because the owner's wife has multiple food intolerance, as a couple we understand and empathise with fellow suffers the enormous difficulties they have when eating out. The business caters for those with or without food intolerance and allergies. Our regular and growing clientele appreciate being able to dine out free of anxiety about their own or their partner's/friend's dietary requirements. Anxiety which is particularly commonplace when in chain restaurants. We also have a growing "fan base" of vegans who appreciate our menu gives them choices they do not usually get in mainstream eateries. Both of these types of customers are alongside those who simply have a love of good food, cooked with care and passion using local produce wherever possible
Our community hub gives great ambience and welcome for all who come. A strong social media presence using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, ensures our reach goes well beyond our town. We have a well-known and appreciated community engagement, supporting local groups, charities and businesses. In addition, customers are delighted to receive much needed help and advice especially when they are first diagnosed with a food intolerance or allergy.
The Rewards So Far
While financial return and profit, of course, are essential, our business is very rewarding and satisfying in seeing and receiving the sheer delight from our customers and clients. It is increasingly not uncommon for us to take table bookings from far afield for diners to come to Broadstairs, eg for afternoon tea from Reading or for a birthday party from Hadleigh.... even for a day trip, knowing the comfort and quality of the experience they have with us. "I want to have my ice cream in a cone so I walk down the street like any normal girl!" [Dairy intolerant coeliac] "This dairy-free ice cream based dessert is the best I have had" [Foodie] "It is so nice to have menu to choose from instead of a grid telling me what I can't have." [Gluten intolerant vegan] "I came to this buffet dreading it as I knew I wouldn't have anything to eat. How lovely to be proven wrong!" [Vegetarian with multiple allergies] "Your help and advice was invaluable; it has made such a difference."
About the project
We are now ready for the next stage of the business: segmentation beyond the cafe which everyone knows and love with two new distinct segments - Trade Bakery and Outside Catering
Over the past two years we have grown our bakery beyond providing produce to use in the cafe. We now have two further, distinct channels:
- Supplying cafes and restaurants with gluten-free and dairy-free cakes, and
- Supplying individuals with specialist cakes (eg dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan) for all manner of occasions including weddings
Our cupcakes, cakes and scones are greatly appreciated, and on big days such as weddings they are well received and commented on by those lucky enough to be guests. We have made the exception the norm. Instead of having one cake for the majority and a small one for those with the allergy or intolerance, the one cake is for everybody. With the expectation that a dairy-free, gluten-free cake would be stodgy or unpalatable or "different", we continually amaze people with our light, fluffy cakes to the extent that those with allergies or intolerance are unsure that they are eating the right food! For us as a business the reward and satisfaction this gives is indescribable. It is sheer delight giving customers from 0 to 100+ pleasure.
Our first aim of the project is to firmly establish a Trade Bakery section for the business (instead of the current ad-hoc occasional add-on which it is). This means having a baker on a fixed salaried contract with an apprentice in place during 2015/16. Both are essential. There is real craft in baking with specialist ingredients such as gluten-free flour or without staples such as eggs or dairy, in such a way that nobody can tell the difference between regular cakes and our gluten-free & dairy-free ones. We are fortunate enough to have an excellent college in the town whose alumni include the TV chef and restauranteur Gary Rhodes. Thus we are confident that, with a NVQ2 or NVQ3 qualification under their belt, our apprentice will be sufficiently qualified and experienced to work alongside our baker and so enable us to meet our growth targets in 2016/17. We are already aware of tea rooms and café-restaurants in the surrounding area where our Trade Bakery products would be well received
A sad but true reality is that buffets and functions are a nightmare for those with dietary requirements. Our experience is that mainstream caterers provide loads of sandwiches (coeliacs go hungry), with butter (dairy sufferers go without), and meat galore (sorry vegans). And, even do gross blunders such as salad and coleslaw sandwiches for vegans - made with egg mayonnaise and buttered bread. Thus, with such experiences and a growing awareness of dietary requirements within family and friends, people are coming to us. We are therefore able to capitalise on the opportunities this gives us. While they may come to place an order for cupcakes, cakes or scones, we inform them about our outside catering, ranging in size from a small afternoon tea to a silver service wedding function. Our experience has shown catering for about 20% as "specialist" (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan) is about right - usually to the amazement of the client. And, in turn, provides delight for their guests - even when the function has been geared for those with food intolerance and allergies.
Such opportunities need to be seized, but the reality is that our lovely, homely cafe-restaurant is too small to do all the necessary preparation – quite apart from the logistical nightmare of juggling live customer orders with cooking for an event. This is the second project aim: creating a third, distinct segment of the business dedicated to outside catering. We have a property which can be converted into a commercial preparation area to satisfy the necessary regulations. In addition, the nature of what we do means we have to double up (or more) on equipment to use at venues, even when they have kitchens or equipment there
You Can Make The Difference
Please pledge your support by selecting one of the options on the right and help us provide food for everyone more sustainably by creating the business segments we need to help grow the business beyond one outlet to multiple outlets