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Tammy Evans: Managing Director of V-1, a vegetarian restaurant in the UK.What is V1 and where is it located?
V1 is the UK’s first city centre fast food restaurant serving just vegetarian and vegan food. We specialise in burgers & hot snacks but also sell a wide range of sandwiches, cold snacks, desserts & drinks. We’re on Hounds Gate, just across the road from McDonalds in Nottingham City Centre
When was V1 opened?
8 April 1999
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The main challenge has been poor service from suppliers. They’re just not used to supplying the volume of product we need. We’re now getting to the level where we can deal direct with the manufacturers (instead of wholesalers), who always seem much more happy to help. The Health Food service in the UK has so much to learn in terms of customer care if it’s going to survive the growing competition from supermarkets moving in that direction.
As we’re a brand new concept we had nothing to base our progress on or compare the success to. Market research had shown that there was a market there for us but until we opened the doors and then started comparing our sales figures month to month there was quite a bit of hoping and guess work involved!
Another big challenge has been changing people’s habits. Most customers are very loyal to their favourite food outlets. Although V1 is a brand new concept and so desperately needed, it was still hard work not only letting people know we’re here but actually getting them in the door! The hard work is paying off now as we have many loyal customers.
What's the most popular item on the menu?
Surprisingly it’s our VLT burger and VLT sandwich – both bacon imitations. Maybe it is true what they say, bacon is what veggies miss the most.
What sort of feedback have you received from your guests?
Overwhelmingly positive. Vegetarians and vegans are so pleased we’re here. We’re still attracting new customers and our customer comment forms show that nearly half of our guests are meat eaters so it’s great that we’re playing a part in encouraging more people to eat veggie. I know of at least three customers who have actually become vegetarian as it’s so much easier to eat now V1 is here. Mostly customers are just relieved that there is now somewhere to go 7 days a week with choice, value and friendly staff. The only complaints we have are from customers who live out of the area – they want a V1 near them!
Do you have plans to franchise V1?
Yes, as soon as possible. We’ve had a lot of enquiries from potential franchisees but we just need a bit longer to get more established here and then we’ll be expanding to other cities in the UK. V1 International is a bit further away yet but a very real goal of mine.
Why did you decide to open a vegetarian fast food restaurant?
The idea came out of the frustration of not having anywhere to eat while out and about – there is still nowhere else selling take away vegan food. I used to sneak my own sandwiches into fast food places when out with friends and always thought wouldn’t it great if everything on the menu was veggie. The V1 dream was born.
I’m really happy to be providing a service for vegetarians and vegans at last but the best thing about it is that I’ve now got somewhere to get lunch!