Meat and one veg – two roads to sustainable success

Hundreds who’ve helped in a decade of success, beyond even the wildest dream of founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott, packed into the Shoreditch site where the legend of Hawksmoor began, to celebrate the company’s 10th birthday.

As they said in a reflective Facebook post earlier this year: “If you’d asked us back then what we hoped for we’d have settled for a restaurant that people loved (actually, early on we’d have settled for a restaurant that people actually went to).

“As it is Hawksmoor has spent 5 years in the top 100 restaurants in the country, 4 years in the top 100 employers in the country, has raised/donated almost £1m for charity and, we hope, has become a well-loved institution in London and Manchester.” That post was written before the

That it has, is no fluke. The key lies in that last sentence. And we’ll return to examine it a wee bit further, shortly.

Head across town into the West End and just off Carnaby Street another institution, of even longer standing, is reaping the benefits of ditching meat. Pret a Manger’s first veggie store is celebrating record sales – up 70% year-on-year. CEO Clive Schlee said that there was now a big internal debate about whether to convert a quarter of the stores to be meat-free. He added: “A meat free environment seems to generate an infectious positive energy…This shows that vegan dishes can be just as delicious as veggie dishes, or we have underestimated how strong the vegan movement is.”

What links these two success stories? Well, if nothing else, it shows that there’s more than one way to skin a cat (not literally of course) when it comes to running a successful restaurant or foodservice business.

But in truth it goes further. Will and Huw, used up a whole load of shoe leather in their quest to find the right meat for what would become their legendary steaks. It’s no accident that Hawksmoor has been winning awards, attracting some of the best staff in the business and crucially filling tables and the stomachs of satisfied customers for ten years. They just do things the right way in pretty much every aspect of the business.

As it says on the Hamksmoor website: “We want a business we can be proud of – whether that’s make sure the food we serve is as good as possible, that the animals the food comes from lived a decent life, or that everyone works with us enjoys what they do.”

And over 30 odd years, Pret has built a reputation envied by many of its rivals.

While these two businesses maybe planning a future built on very different menus, you can be sure that all of the ingredients for their success (edible and non) will all be very carefully and responsibly selected.

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