Ready Burger is an inspirational quick-service restaurant on a mission to bring plant-based food to the masses. Creating food to the highest standards with a focus on inclusive, sustainable and ethical hospitality, they opened their first location in Crouch End with a second site launching on Finchley Road in late Summer 2021. Modern Hospitality had the pleasure of speaking with Max Miller, CEO of Ready Burger about customers’ changing requirements, creating an exciting brand, finding a gap in the market, designing a 100% plant-based menu that caters to all tastes, crowdfunding and much more.
Where the journey began
Tell us more about Ready Burger’s journey, from launching to where it is today
At Ready Burger we’ve mastered the science behind taste and texture of plant-based foods to make them indistinguishable from their conventional counterparts to create the UK’s first scalable, value driven, fully plant-based QSR brand.
We believe there are no high quality, value driven, fully plant-based Quick-Service Restaurants, and yet the plant-based food market is expanding fast. 7% of Brits are vegan, 14% vegetarian & >30% identify as flexitarian. Existing offerings are expensive and often compromise on taste and texture.
Realising this, we spent the majority of 2020 and the early part of 2021 getting the foundations of the business in place. In June 2021 we launched our first location in Crouch End, followed in early July by at-home delivery via Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Catering for meat lovers, vegans, vegetarians, Halal or Kosher, our menu offers fast food classics at everyday prices. Partnered with world leading plant-based food manufacturers, together we’re building a range of proprietary plant-based proteins making many menu items unique to us. All the while getting closer to a 99p saver menu burger!
Plant-based and ethical food choices
How are customers’ attitudes changing towards plant-based and ethical food choices?
The big quick service restaurants have all recognised the huge increase in popularity of a plant-based diet with many introducing vegan/plant-based options. However, our research has shown that a lot of people who are following a plant-based diet aren’t comfortable eating these options in the most popular restaurants as they’re worried about cross contamination, and uncomfortable supporting companies who contribute so much to the volume of meat used in this market.
Our restaurants are completely plant based, so there’s no risk of cross contamination with meat dairy or any other non-plant-based products. It’s a completely plant-based menu, but meat eaters are just as happy to eat our burgers as vegetarians and vegans.
Our key differentiator is that we’re completely inclusive and we’ve not focused our marketing on being vegan – we look, taste, and are comparable in price to the major fast-food chains, but we happen to be completely plant based. We are a great way for meat-eaters to get a taste of another lifestyle.
Choosing a menu
How have you found the process of perfecting your menu?
A key thing for us is that we don’t lead on being plant-based – we’re for everyone, whatever their diet type (yes, carnivores too). People no longer have to choose between or eat at different restaurants if one of their family or friends is veggie, vegan, halal, kosher. Our menu reflects that – you will see some of your ‘go-to’ classics on there but won’t always realise they are meat-free.
For us, the menu needed to be delicious, but it also had to be a way for us to show how passionate we are about the removal of animal agriculture from the supply chain. Not only is a plant-based diet much better for your health, but the output of our food is also a lot kinder to the earth. Typically, a plant-based burger emits 92% less greenhouse gas emissions than a beef burger, requires 93% less land than a beef burger and needs 70% less water to create. If people realized this, we think there would be a speedier transition to plant-based diets.
Our regular customer tasting events have shown us that we’re on the right track with flavour too.
What has your experience been with crowdfunding and what advice would you give to anybody looking to do the same?
CrowdCube was an interesting exercise in and of itself. It gave people the opportunity to ask really important questions and for us to be as transparent as possible about what we are doing and why. Overall, it was a great experience and exceeding our target in just a few short days was really exciting.
The feedback from the crowdfund has instilled confidence in us that only positives will come from continuing to build our fan base, making connections with investors and fans who will advocate for us and spread the word. That being said, we’ve put in some serious groundwork to ensure that the future plans for Ready Burger are worthy of the support we’ve been shown.
Our advice would be to use a crowdfunding platform to listen to your peers, community and customers for advice and feedback. It was our intention from the start to embark on a crowdfunding campaign, because we wanted to create a community of people who would support the brand and hopefully become loyal customers and recommend us and our mission to their friends and family. They’ve built the brand with us, they’re fully invested, so we know they’ll want us to succeed.
Growing loyalty through social media
How important is social media for growing customer loyalty and engagement and what are your top tips for creating captivating content?
We’ve been very lucky to grow a steadfast following in the few short weeks since opening, with the reviews and social buzz being testament to that. For us, social has been an invaluable tool for spreading word-of-mouth and some of our best content has come from customers not realising the food is plant-based.
Basically, we create content that we ourselves would relate to and like to see. Its light-hearted humour, mixed with mouth-watering pics of food. Simple, but effective!
High quality ingredients at an affordable price
How have you balanced quality ingredients with the right price point?
When we set out to create the Ready Burger menu, our priority was to create plant-based versions of fast food classics that tasted just as good as its conventional counterparts. There are lots of options out there but many either compromise on taste, texture or price. There are a number of ways we have achieved this comparable price point.
Firstly, our food waste is minimal due to the quick nature of cooking and the limited size of our menu, at this stage we build our products to order and cook only enough stock to facilitate the total number of orders in store. We are however still in our soft launch phase with a moving target on training to ensure our staff are producing consistently perfect products. We aim to achieve a wastage percentage of less than 1% cost against revenue.
Secondly, we keep our supply chain small and only work with the best suppliers to provide us with quality products that can scale with our business model. Our network of suppliers does extend beyond the UK at this time, but only where necessary to keep us at the forefront of plant-based innovation.
Finally, we limit shipping by working with UK based distributors to top-load large quantities of our stock, allowing us to keep day to day supply to our stores entirely within the UK.
What’s next for Ready Burger?
What is next for Ready Burger and how can our readers stay up to date?
Having just reached our £2m investment target within a few days, we’re now able to build on our early success! The investment will allow us to continue to drive forward our ambitious expansion plans, opening further venues across London, then nationally and eventually internationally, to bring plant-based food to the masses. It will also enable us to invest in the best food technology, innovative solutions, marketing and continue to ensure we deliver consistency of service and quality of product at each phase of growth.
The long-term vision is to create and cement our UK presence to become the market leading plant-based fast-food brand. We’ll also look to licence the brand across the world once we’ve established our business here in the UK. We are already in early-stage discussions with interested parties from around the world and hope to be able to support the launch of Ready Burger in as many corners of the planet.