Last year was going to be the biggest yet for street food company, Fat Teds Events. Then the Covid pandemic hit and derailed those plans. But, as Director Sarah Oruc points out, help is out there – and what have you got to lose by asking for it?
All was set fair for Fat Teds Events at the start of last year. The Sheringham-based street food company was fully booked for weddings from March and was preparing to recruit more staff. COVID’s sudden arrival meant the event industry calendar was immediately wiped clean, as the world of hospitality changed. During the first lockdown most of the sector shut down, but once restrictions started being relaxed, hospitality’s focus shifted to outdoor events.
While a return to trading was welcomed, outdoor events presented a significant challenge for the management team at Fat Teds.
Located in Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast, Fat Teds is a ‘streat’ food take-away specialising in made-to-order street food like flatbreads, Mediterranean salads, loaded fries and nachos. It also caters for weddings, corporate functions and private parties from its two mobile units that are used at music and entertainment events across the East of England.
With weddings, everything is pre-paid and therefore relatively straightforward to budget for and staff accurately. But for outdoor events there was no guarantee of how much food it would sell. Also, its food is made-to-order, meaning people would have to wait in a queue, and with social distancing in place, this would be difficult to operate.
Having assessed the market, the team realised they needed to develop a Click & Collect service and for that they would need to recalibrate their menu and website. They would also have to upgrade their mobile units to cater for the demand. That all added up to a few thousand pounds – which is where the LEP’s Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme played its part.
Director Sarah Oruc explains: ‘Knowing we had to do something to keep the business operating, we worked out that Click & Collect would offer us the best option. We realised we would have to upgrade the menu as well as the website to make this happen. Thankfully, we already had a web design agency we worked with, but we weren’t sure of the overall financial impact. That’s where our Business Adviser at New Anglia Growth Hub really helped.
‘They quickly confirmed we were eligible for funding and helped us to pull together our application. It was pretty straightforward and was approved first time. We got 100 per cent funding for the work we needed to carry out, which all told was in the region of £3,000 for the website redesign and upgrading the mobile units.
‘We had been a bit nervous about committing that amount of money, so the grant funding took much of the risk out of that decision. It’s worked out very well for us and we are very confident we now have a much more resilient business model.’
Fat Teds is now able to cater effectively at independent pop-up venues, as well as via Click & Collect. It expects to be attending events later this year at locations such as Holkham Hall, Blickling Hall and Norwich’s Junkyard Market.
Sarah adds: ‘There has been a definite change in customers’ attitudes and preferences for more independent caterers and street food markets, so we are really looking forward to being part of this movement. I would recommend any company, however small, to approach the LEP for help with growing their business. It’s just a phone call, what have you got to lose?’