Bejay Mulenga & Dominic Cools-Lartigue
Courtesy of Great Feast
The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst restaurants have started to reopen with many across the UK opening their doors last weekend social distancing requirements and less footfall as many people stay at home means restaurateurs will be making substantially less revenue and struggle to keep their doors open, particularly when government support declines. Some restaurants have thrived by adapting their business model for delivery, utilizing platforms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat. However, restaurants that offer a dining experience with higher quality chefs are likely to suffer as they cannot charge customers what they would in-store and remain competitive online. Two entrepreneurs launching an innovative food delivery service where customers can order food, shop ethical products and attend events that merge the digital and physical creating an enhanced social dining experience are Dom Cools-Lartigue and Bejay Mulenga.
A Plate For London
Cools-Lartigue and Mulenga are both serial entrepreneurs with the former responsible for founding Street Feast, London’s leading street food market chain. Mulenga is an award-winning social entrepreneur who we featured late last year on Forbes. Initially, the pair intended to create a physical food festival next summer in London but after noticing the impact the current pandemic was having on the number of people living below the poverty line and wanting to help they launched A Plate For London which is “a coalition of grassroots heroes, local charities, industry bodies and local government to reach Londoners in need”. Through A Plate For London, they have managed to feed thousands of people during the coronavirus pandemic with a particular emphasis on school children who would normally receive free school meals partnering with Tower Hamlets Council to feed 15,000 children across the London borough.
In an attempt to further support Londoners they brought forward their food festival making it virtual with a focus on providing an in-home dining experience which features top chefs such as Nuno Mendes and Ollie Dabbous and interactive events with wellbeing coaches, speakers, musicians and performance artists leading cook-alongs, meditation sessions, talks and live music performances. The virtual festival took place last weekend from the 3rd – 5th July and was a huge success with 1000 meals sold, which means Great Feast will be able to donate 1000 meals to people in need through A Plate For London.
Great Feast Delivery
The legacy of the virtual festival will be a permanent online marketplace where their fleet of green delivery drivers will be delivering food from leading independent restaurants who will in turn benefit from a fairer commission structure of between 10-20% vs. 30-35% charged on platforms such as Deliveroo. Additionally, customers will enjoy an enhanced dining experience with recipe kits from restaurants such as Kricket, Patty & Bun, and AngloThai and drinks from some of London’s best craft breweries along with a range of pre-bottled cocktails, cocktail kits and a great selection of wines. “Culture and events will continue to play a significant role,” the duo say with “weekly podcasts, videos, and editorial content which will explore food, drink, and wellbeing”. However, most importantly every order placed will contribute to a free meal for someone living below the poverty line through A Plate For London.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought about many problems which we’re likely to see for the foreseeable future and it’s entrepreneurs like Mulenga and Cools-Lartigue finding innovative solutions that have both a commercial and social benefit that help society come out stronger. The Great Feast marketplace is live now and will be delivering weekly from 17th July.
This article is part of a series featuring diverse people making a difference. You can find more articles (click here) and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released message/follow me on Twitter @TommyASC91