Clean and healthy plant-based food is everywhere these days but is significantly lacking in the fast food arena. YouTube star turned entrepreneur Mikey Pearce is trying to change that with his Clean Kitchen Club. We sat down with Mikey to get some insight into his new venture.
AJ – What was the inspiration to make the move from YouTuber to business owner?
MP – I think with being a YouTuber you often but not always have a time span where you’re doing the same kind of videos and you can’t keep doing the same things, keep doing the same content as when you were younger. I feel like I reached the end of my time on YouTube. I still do a few things on there now and again and we’re doing a series based on Clean Kitchen Club too.
My best friend and I, I’ve known him for 25 years, always wanted to do a hospitality type concept and over lock down we started to eat a lot of plant based food. We cut out a lot of red meat, we’d use plant based bacon substitutes in our bacon sandwiches and other plant based alternatives for our meals. We started to think about a hospitality brand that centred around feel-good plant-based food. Good burgers, wraps, sandwiches but also focus on the fact that not everyone has to go completely vegan. So you’re trying to cut out meat or reduce your meat consumption then this is the brand for you.
We started off by renting a kitchen from someone, created some tasty plant based alternatives to things people often crave and consume and then put ourselves on Deliveroo. At the time we didn’t really know what we were doing but it started to do really well on Deliveroo and selling out most weeks. Obviously we started quite small and we’d only stock a certain amount of ingredients. We didn’t have that much money to plow into it but after that we took a site down on Brighton sea front in a kind-of food court called Charter Hall. We had that and what we were doing on Deliveroo which has allowed us to expand quickly. We’ve just opened a place in Chelsea which operates using Deliveroo and Uber Eats. We’re about to open our first site Tunbridge Wells and we’re working on a site in BOXPARK, Wembley.
It’s been a real grower but we thought we want to make the most of it, we want to be as productive as we can during lock-down and also build this brand that is about positive food. It’s healthier food, better for you, we use all eco-friendly packaging so it’s better for the environment as well.
AJ – Has this shift to plant-based food had an effect you personally?
MP – Yeah definitely. I lost a bunch of weight cutting out red meat and doing this plant-based diet. We’re finding that if people order takeaways twice a week and if they switch just one of those to a Clean Kitchen order then they’re slowly reducing their fast-food consumption and their meat consumption without sacrificing enjoyment. We want to make it accessible to people and my goal is to roll these out and have as many grab and go sites as possible.
If people try our products and think that’s nice, that’s tasty, then regardless of whether it has meat or not, they’ll want it again. We want people to have their go-to choice that they just pick up without thinking about it. Just like I used to with Pret, I’d always go for the same wrap or the same sandwich. But if we can do that but it’s good for you and good for the environment then that’s what we’re aiming for. And thanks to the latest technology in plant-based cooking, it tastes just as good and people love it.
AJ – Simplicity is something that consumers crave. What the you learnt about your approach to the market?
MP – We’re already seeing a lot of repeat business. We’ve just launched the Chelsea location and we’ve had someone who has ordered from us eight times already which is quite good. We’re already becoming some people’s take-away of choice. We’ve just launched a Satay Burger and they ordered the same Satay Burger each time. That’s twice a week for the four weeks we’ve been open which is amazing.
Before I used to eat the same baguette at Pret. I’d always get a tuna and cucumber baguette if I was going on a flight or catching a train because it was easy and I always enjoyed it. If we can replace some of that business with our stuff then that’d be great for us.
AJ – Was it the plan to offer vegan food from the outset or did you consider other options?
MP – We did have a discussion about offering a little bit of other options but we ultimately decided that we want to keep it strictly plant based. The vegan community kind of like the fact fact that we offer exclusively plant based options and don’ offer any meat at all. Pretty much every restaurant or takeaway offers some kind of vegetarian or vegan option but they’re still cooking meat. For us, we don’t cook meat so there’s zero chance of cross contamination in our kitchens.
AJ – Did lockdown help or hinder your initial plans?
MP – Urm, It was tough. Obviously we got a lot of orders because the restaurants were shut and everyone was ordering takeaways. But on the other side there were new safety procedures that we had to implement and investigate. We had to train staff and build relationships with new suppliers which created a longer turn around that maybe we wouldn’t have had pre-lockdown. It was definitely tough but we got it done.
For me, the first month of lockdown was really boring and I struggled a little but as soon as we decided this was something we were going to do it was like full steam ahead and it really made lockdown bearable and productive. I think we made the most of lockdown but desperately hope there’s not another one.
AJ – You’re growing the business at an impressive rate. What’s next for the Clean Kitchen Club?
MP – We’re opening our Tunbridge Wells site in Central Market this week and we’re giving away 100 free burgers so it’ll be quite a busy weekend. We’re all heading down there now to get it all set up and ready, getting it decorated, ready for customers. Two weeks after that we go to BOXPARK in Wembley which is pretty exciting, I love BOXPARK. I go there a lot. After that we’re really going to focus on spreading our brand and spreading the brand message. We’re working with a few charities to help give something back and once we’ve got our locations open we can really focus on pushing the Clean Kitchen Club and building the brand.
Clean Kitchen Club seem to be one of the UK’s many lockdown success stories and we wish them the very best of luck. By the end of the month you’ll be able to get good quality fast vegan food in Brighton, Chelsea, Tunbridge Wells and Wembley. Check out their website for more details and here’s a selection of their signature dishes:
Signature dishes include:
- Clean Burger (£9.50) – Homemade patty, lettuce, tomato, gherkin, vegan cheese, vegan mayo and ketchup
- Cheat ‘N’ Clean (£11.50) – Double homemade patty, homemade mushroom bacon, double vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo and ketchup
- Satay Burger (£10.00) – Moving mountains patty, authentic Thai satay sauce, Asian slaw and lettuce
- Loaded Roasted Potatoes (£6.50) – Crispy onions, melted cheese sauce, toasted sesame seeds, crushed peanuts and sriracha mayo
- Acai bowl (£8.50) – Dark berries from the Brazilian rainforest, mixed with frozen banana, apple juice and topped with granola and frozen fruit
- Vegan Millionaire Shortbread (£5.00) – Biscuit base layered with caramel and chocolate