Plant Based Business: Interview with Restaurateur, Loui Blake

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“Erpingham House was listed as one of the 20 vegetarian restaurants by The Times.”

Loui Blake is a serial entrepreneur with a long career in the hospitality industry. He is the founder of plant-based restaurants, Erpingham House and Kalifornia Kitchen; two establishments that have gained a lot of traction over social media and in the press.

As Loui is running a workshop at the Plant Based Business Bootcamp this weekend, we thought we’d ask him a few questions about life as an entrepreneur!

What made you want to open Erpingham House?

Being from Norfolk, every time i came back from London trying to convert friends & family to veganism, there was nowhere to take them that matched my ethos on plant-based foods! Having worked with restaurants in a marketing capacity for a number of years, i’d craved to have my own space in which to create something purposeful, so i put an offer on a beautiful building in the city centre without expecting for it to be accepted. A short while after, it was approved & i had no choice!

What has been your proudest moment since opening up Erpingham House & Kalifornia Kitchen?

Erpingham House was listed as one of the 20 vegetarian restaurants by The Times, which was an exciting accolade, but the real pride comes when people come with no expectation to like the food, yet leave with a changed perception on vegan food. At Kalifornia Kitchen, we’ve received some lovely feedback from a number of celebrities & critics, including Stephen Fry & Amy Jackson, but again its an ongoing thing knowing we’re making plant-based foods accessible in central London.

Erpingham House

Erpingham House

Kalifornia Kitchen

Kalifornia Kitchen

What has been the most challenging part of running a restaurant?

There’s so many moving parts and high running costs, which means constant pressure to generate new customers & ensure existing ones have a great experience. Add to that you have these large spaces and a growing, but still relatively niche genre, and the pressure can be crippling. Its not for the faint-hearted, but i have learnt more in the last year than the previous 10.

“Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be.”

What advice would you give to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. If not physically, then via books, podcasts, talks. Don’t be afraid to fail, and try to draw from every experience, but those that appear positive & those that appear negative.

Erpingham House

Erpingham House

Kalifornia Kitchen

Kalifornia Kitchen

“The key is to not get lost in aimlessly scrolling to fill every gap in your day.”

How important has social media been for the success of your business? Would you say that social media is a must for all entrepreneurs?

I think its largely dependant on the individual, as to whether everyone needs it. I know plenty of entrepreneurs who are silent, and not on the platform. Its helped me understand the needs of my customers & communicate what i want to say t the world, so for that purpose i feel it can be hugely valuable. The key is to not get lost in aimlessly scrolling to fill every gap in your day. 

What is a business-related app that you couldn’t live without?

Online mobile banking!

Do you have any exciting plans for the future, or anything new you’d like to share with us?

There will be another restaurant in the next 12 months, and a product, but i can say too much more at this time!

What made you want to get involved with Vevolution events?

I wanted to share what i’ve learnt, in the hope i can empower others, so collectively we can help push this movement forward. And of course learn from the other speakers!


LOUI BLAKE WILL BE RUNNING A WORKSHOP ON REBEL MARKETING AT THE BOOTCAMP

At the Plant Based Business Bootcamp, attendees will hear specialised talks on investment, marketing, scaling, leadership, self-care + much more from entrepreneurs who have built some of the UK’s most iconic businesses.

Come along on July 13th, and get involved with workshops, 1-to-1 clinic sessions, and more.