Modern Hospitality had the pleasure of speaking with Nish Modasia, Co-founder of En Root about his business’ stand-out approach.
At En Root, customers can expect unique culinary creations and authentic Gujarati spices. Their mission is to provide plant powered goodness, which offers nutrition to the mind, body and soul whilst engaging the fun and adventurous side of food. Celebrating a combination of cultures, cousins Nish and Harshil began the business with the aim to bring people together and create food that people can’t get elsewhere.
Selling food from their Clapham-based restaurant and food truck, En Root has expanded its offering in recent months to meet growing and changing demand. Nish shared his top tips and experiences with Modern Hospitality.
Focusing on creating feel-good, delicious, plant-based foods that bring countless health benefits, Nish explained: “Our food is unique. It stands out and health is the focus. We had a shop in 2016 that was more of a pop up and straight away we had festival organisers getting in touch, asking us to recreate the same experience at festivals. We try new things and love to meet new friends, which falls in line with a good meal and something that you might not traditionally get.”
An inspired business
Nish explained where his initial interest in food came from. Taking inspiration from various cultures and experiences, he said: “Personally speaking, I have a big passion for food and am always trying something new. These kinds of dishes stem from India and in most of our dishes, you’ll find something that originated in India or a journey that started East. My mum has always created in the kitchen and is a big inspiration. She loves to make things with modern ingredients and a traditional flavour base.”
Pivoting business models
Speaking about the way that En Root has adapted its business model to meet changing customer requirements during the pandemic, Nish added: “We have a solution kind of mentality, so we started doing a ‘Lockdown Lifesaver meal plan’ for those wanting to nourish themselves or others. People are acknowledging that you must eat healthily and support your immune system, and this is what you get at En Root. Our biggest adaptations have been our veggie boxes and we’ve brought out two new hot sauces. As an example, our ‘Lime and Ginger Kicker’ sauce boosts the immune system.”
En Root’s DIY home meal kits have been a popular addition to their offering, impressing customers. Designed to bring fun back into food, Nish said: “Food can be creative and enjoyable as well as being in line with eating well and feeling better. It should be an enjoyment, not a formality. People are working from home and looking forward to that lunch break where they’ll cook something great. We’ve been reminding people that they can be creative in the kitchen, bringing the fun back into food. Everything is cooked with the right flavours to make it stand out and bring nutritional joy.”
Launching a product and starting a retail side of any restaurant business can be challenging. Having successfully created a range of Raja Bonnet Sauces, Nish offered his advice to anybody looking to do the same. He said: “Sometimes the idea of it is the most daunting bit of it. We enjoyed the creative side of making the product, then you have the formalities of designing the label and overcoming issues such as bottles getting smashed. It can be difficult to approach new retailers and stockists, but social media can give you a direct link to somebody without having to be there in person. This has stopped the barrier to getting in touch with anybody, which can help you have those conversations.”
Commenting on the support from those in Clapham, Nish said: “We have a big celebration for South London where the business is born, so we care about our community and that love has also been coming back to us. People have been so supportive, with takeaways and collections.” En Root’s unique approach to creating incredible food and turning every visit into an experience has led to a loyal customer base that continues to grow. Nish added: “Once you try an En Root meal, you realise you don’t need something unhealthy as a takeaway. You can feel the difference and it’s great. It might be out of your comfort zone, but we change the way people feel about takeaways and they enjoy it again, being more mindful of the fact that a takeaway can be nutritious.”
En Root also plays a large role in other community projects and causes. Nish explained: “In Brixton, the cash and carry was going to get turfed out for some new buildings and there was a big protection for that. Our business wouldn’t have got started without that, so it’s a passion for us to support them and keep these places. If you haven’t got culture, you end up with nothing.”
Utilising social media
Social media has been a popular tool for connecting with customers throughout lockdown. En Root has utilised social channels to spread positivity, celebrating positive news and putting a smile on their followers’ faces. They have gone the extra mile to keep in contact with customers. Nish explained: “Food is so visual that it’s been great to put it on Instagram and Facebook for people to see. It’s a way to tap into a new customer base and it keeps us motivated when we put something out there and people acknowledge it. We’ve also got out on our bikes and in the van and we’ve taken veg boxes out to customers. Whether they’re vulnerable or isolating, we’ve been able to have a five minute conversation with them which makes such a difference.”
Hospitality business finances
Keeping on top of finances has been essential for the survival of hospitality businesses. Nish spoke about the way Starling Bank has helped them run their business, explaining: “They help celebrate our story and it’s been nice to feel like somebody to them, rather than with most banking that usually doesn’t feel as personal. Starling Bank is great for entrepreneurs. The online experience is perfect for today’s world and they make everything to do with finance easier. Everything is transparent on the application and you can even split up costs such as food, events and packaging. Everything is facilitated through their platform.”
The future for En Root
While the last year has forced businesses to change the way that they operate, Nish spoke about his excitement to brighten more people’s days in person. He said: “It’s been nice to reground in the restaurant and celebrate the positivity, but we’ve missed having the joy of being able to go to festivals and give people an En Root experience. At festivals, we crack coconuts for people, stand out with a lot of colour and engage in that festival atmosphere, so that’s been something that we’re missing.”
Love what you do
Finally, Nish shared his words of wisdom for anybody considering launching their own food business. He said: “If you’re doing something like this, make sure you’re passionate and that it’s authentic and this will keep you motivated. For me and my business partner, it’s everything that we enjoy and love and people are interested in this. It can be your lifestyle and means of income at the same time. Happiness and motivation is essential and more people are coming up with their own businesses and ideas. It brings about a lot of opportunity and it’s an exciting time.”