Sponsored post by BioPak.
Andrei Lussmann, the man behind the successful group of fish and grill restaurants, Lussmanns, is passionate about sustainably sourced food.
As a multi-award-winning restaurant founded on the principle that ethically sourced and locally farmed produce should be available to everyone, Lussmanns had never considered packaged meals or takeaway for that matter…until Covid.
Here, Andrei Lussmann shares the group's Covid strategy and why they chose BioPak to support their food and packaging needs.
The Lussmanns journey
Lussmanns was first founded in 2002 in London, and has since branched out to Hertfordshire, with their sixth restaurant opening in Oxford just two weeks before the UK went into lockdown – certainly not how Andrei and his team, headed up by head chef Mick McGeown and head of operations Matt Mager, envisaged their latest project starting.
What sustainability initiatives do you have in your business and how easy or difficult are they to meet?
We have always believed in ethical business, whether that's through our Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation and our sustainably sourced fish and meats or our commitment to recycling 100% of our waste. We want to ensure we are honest and transparent when it comes to the origin and disposal of all our resources.
Lussmanns are also proud to be a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which aims to accelerate change toward an environmentally restorative and socially progressive hospitality sector in the UK. The SRA supports more than 10,000 restaurants through its Food Made Good programme, which includes an annual sustainability rating, and supports our vision that you can run a sustainable business and still be commercially viable.
Maintaining a competitive edge in an incredibly saturated market, without compromising on their ethical and sustainable values in itself has been a challenge, let alone with a global pandemic thrown into the mix
What motivated you to switch to home-compostable, rapidly renewable sugarcane packaging?
Our business plan works towards a circular economy, with a 100% recycling standard, reusing oil and ensuring food waste is minimised. It therefore didn't make sense that we used packaging that would end up in landfill – it had to align with our sustainable values.
I wanted to work with composting, I have 3-4 compost bins in my own garden!
Once I was introduced to BioPak, it became immediately clear that our values were reflected within the packaging solutions available to us, from renewably sourced to certified compostable. We ordered samples and made the decision in 15 seconds, and that was the end of it really.
Are you new to takeaway as part of navigating through Covid-19?
Absolutely, we had never done food-to-go and we certainly didn't expect or plan to, having only just opened our sixth restaurant two weeks prior to lockdown. We did however see the writing on the wall, much as the rest of the industry, so we started doing takeaway 3-4 days before lockdown was officially announced.
In 30 hours we went from having six restaurants open and serving on white china, to closed and operating takeaway and delivery only.
We made many, many mistakes in the first few weeks, but we were agile and quick to adapt. Personally, I had to deliver 70 orders a day over a weekend, and I'd never delivered anything. But we committed to learning, and learning quickly.
How important is sustainable packaging to your business?
It's been busy, we've sold over 33,000 units of food and drink during lockdown – and it's not been without its challenges, but for us, ethics was never one of them, thanks to BioPak packaging. Covid has been an interesting and difficult transition, but I'm incredibly proud of what we as a team have achieved.
BioPak packaging has filled the missing link. It was really important that we didn't become dismissive in the face of adversity
It's great that our customers have the full cycle, whether that's organic produce, service from staff that are ethically treated, or takeaway served in packaging that is sustainably sourced and has a circular economy solution, in that it can be composted.
What challenges and opportunities is your business currently facing and has sustainable packaging contributed to any of these in a positive way?
The financial opportunity in rapidly transitioning to food-to-go has allowed us to continue to keep going through Covid – and we are likely to continue with takeaway service as we go back to our ‘new normal'.
As we leaned into Covid, we wanted our customers to have the opportunity to eat a whole raft of interesting foods – more importantly, we wanted it to be accessible! During this difficult time, our aim was to give people something to enjoy regularly, classy but classless – an everyday luxury.
Of course, our main concern was the wellbeing of our team and our customers. By providing a safe environment to our employees and an accessible experience for patrons, we were able to remain open, a valued part of our customers' lives. The strategy here is to ensure that when we bounce back, we are at the forefront of people's minds.
What feedback would you give to fellow businesses in the foodservice industry during these uncertain times?
Constantly reflect and review your offering, be mindful of your numbers and know your debt, not all ideas work – but they are worth trying! Keeping the lights on and the door ajar, however small, is really important – it keeps the mind open and the opportunity there. Trading in some form, despite the challenges, will help you and your team stay motivated and ensure you all have a common goal to work towards. Mental fatigue and mental health are hugely important and shouldn't be overlooked during these times.
Looking to switch from conventional plastic? Take a look at BioPak's compostable BioCane takeaway containers here.