This week we grab ten minutes with Loui Blake, founder of Erpingham House, 2 years after opening the largest vegan restaurant in the country, founder Loui Blake announces the restaurant’s second location, at 14 Duke Street in Brighton. The first site, located in the centre of Norwich, has gained national attention in it’s first year, being recognised by The Times as one of the UK’s top 20 vegetarian restaurants.
Spread over 3 floors & housing a cafe, restaurant, bar, roof terrace & delivery service, Erpingham House Brighton is a 100% plant-based, free from single-use plastic and certified carbon-free dining. We grabbed ten minutes with Loui Blake, Founder of Erpingham House to chat about the new venture and his entrepreneurial journey so far.
Could you introduce the new Erpingham House site to us?
Erpingham House opens in Brighton as our second location and one where we’re inspired to push the boundaries. The timing of plant-based dining entering the mainstream coupled with the maturity of the local market means we can really get creative in terms of the food offering. To achieve this, we’ve enlisted the help of a consultant chef from Los Angeles, the former culinary director of one of LA’s most established & innovative eateries.
Any unexpected challenges so far?
So far its all on track & going as hoped! We have had an issue with some items we ordered being delayed, but the build is on time & we are proceeding in line with planned opening dates.
What can we expect to see over this year at your new Brighton site?
This year we can expect to see the menus change seasonally, incorporating local availability and playing homage to Brighton. We are excited to announce a number of events & limited-time menus, as well as chef collabs to celebrate the best in plant-based.
What’s been your biggest business challenge yet to date.
In Erpingham House Norwich, just 12 weeks after opening our chef walked out, leaving no menu specs, order sheets or supplier info. We had to close for a few weeks & start again, at the height of our popularity. This meant cancelling bookings & hiring a team from scratch. Being closed for such a period put huge financial constraints on the business and damaged our reputation. It was a difficult period but we preserved and managed to bring the business back & beyond.
What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?
I won restaurant marketer of the year & topped the 30 under 30 list at the restaurant marketer and innovator awards last year for my work with Erpingham House. This was special as I was able to compete with major national brands with huge budgets and gain notoriety from little Norwich, so this awareness meant a lot.
Where do you see the Erpingham House brand in 3 years time?
We would like to have a diversified, scaled up portfolio of plant-based eateries that offer different entry points for people. In doing so, we’d like to continue to innovate to drive the movement forward at large, and hope to play a role in helping people to eat more healthy & sustainable food, whilst having memorable experiences.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
Focus on the why, and let everything flow from here. Remembering why we started has helped when times get hard & allowed us to authentically connect to our audience.
Where would be your dream location to open another Erpingham House site if money and time were not an object?
Los Angeles. I fell in love with the city 5 years ago & go back regularly for inspiration. I would love to open there.
Where is your favourite place in the world to eat other than EH?
I would say my favourite restaurant in the world is Plant Food + Wine in New York. I eat there every time I’m in town and always have a great experience.
What do you find most challenging personally as a business owner and entrepreneur?
Delegation. Its something I’m getting better than, but recognising when to offload work to someone else & trust them to complete it has been a challenge for me. I like to oversee everything, much to the annoyance of my team!