Throughout lockdown Londoners have been turning to delivery food services more than ever. Now that restrictions are being eased what does this mean for the delivery food sector? London Begins at 40 chats with Harry and Lewis Slagel, two Londoners who set up Plateaway restaurant meal kits in July 2020. It now has more than 300,000 users.

What inspired you to set up Plateaway restaurant meal kits?

Harry: During the first lockdown, restaurants began to create their own DIY restaurant meal kits, featuring all the ingredients to create their signature restaurant dishes. We decided that there needed to be a centralised platform for these kits, giving customers the ability to see all kits that are on offer in one place. With a background in user experience, I have always strived to make everything as simple as possible. We spotted a gap in a brand new market and, having always wanted to have our own business, we decided to take the plunge and set up Plateaway together.

How easy was it to launch a project in a lockdown?

We feel that our business is unique and was set up at a perfect time so it was actually easier to launch Plateway during lockdown than it would have been post-lockdown. Companies like Gousto and Hello Fresh paved the way for convenience meal kits long before COVID and therefore we knew that there was already an existing market to tap into. We both had very little distractions, being stuck at home, and only had the business to focus on. The hard part was that time was not on our side, due to the fact that all restaurants were shut and the future was uncertain, it meant that we had to build the website and get started quickly. We did this in under a month and are proud to have been one of the first to market.

You have grown from six to 60 restaurants in less than a year. How have you achieved this?

Lewis: In the first few months it was quite challenging to get restaurants on board as we were a new start-up with limited brand awareness. At First Harry and I searched the web for contacts and approached restaurants we thought would suit our brand, however once we had grown a fantastic sales team, proven sales, and put a lot of effort into our marketing, restaurants began to approach us to come onto our site. Once we hit double figures, the ball started rolling and we were partnering with restaurants week on week. We’ve also managed to use what we have learnt from our restaurants to develop kits for other restaurants, such as Hard Rock Cafe. They are a perfect example of a company keen to enter the meal kit market and our collaborative efforts meant we could turn this idea into a reality.

Harry and Lewis Slagen
Harry and Lewis Slagen

How do Plateaway restaurant meal kits work?

A customer will come onto our site and browse through all our restaurant meal kits. They are able to select the kit or kits they want and a delivery date. Once they have purchased the kits, they will receive a timeslot on the day of delivery. The customer will receive all the ingredients along with instructions on how to make and plate their kit.

What differentiates Plateaway restaurant meal kits from other delivery food services?

We offer nationwide delivery. Our platform allows everyone across the country to enjoy restaurants they may not have access to in their area. Our model is perhaps similar to delivery food services such as Gousto and Hello Fresh, providing ingredients to make a meal, however our platform is solely for restaurant meal kits, offering customers a restaurant experience at home.

How do you support restaurants?

Originally, we were giving our restaurant partners a revenue stream whilst their doors were closed, providing them a platform amongst other big brands, helping to increase their brand awareness too. With restaurants slowly opening, we are now supporting them with a risk-free additional revenue stream, as well as allowing them to transport their food nationwide, which has never been possible before. In essence it’s a no brainer for any restaurant as who wouldn’t want to add another vertical for their business.

There has been concern that the increase in delivery food during lockdown has led to an increase in non-recyclable waste. How do you combat this? How do you try to reduce your carbon footprint?

Our Plateaway packaging is all ethically sourced and fully recyclable. This includes our boxes and our internal insulation. This packaging is offered to all our restaurant partners, although some use their own packaging. Many of our restaurants use biodegradable packaging for the food contents as well as recyclable boxes. However our ultimate goal is to provide all of our 100% recyclable packaging packs, for each and every one of our restaurants.

Do you fear that your business might slide once London’s restaurants reopen from 17 May?

Whilst we anticipate our customers will be enjoying the next couple of months with lockdown measures easing, we are still seeing encouraging order numbers. We have proven the concept of restaurant meal kits over the past nine months and whilst it’s a new trend that has been born out of lockdown, we have full confidence that this market and trend will continue to grow and thrive post-lockdown. It’s a new and exciting revenue stream for restaurants, which is why we feel Restaurant Meal Kits are here to stay.

LEON LOVe Burger & Fries At Home £18 from
LEON LOVE Burger & Fries At Home £18 from
What are your future plans?

Plateaway plans to be the home of meal kits in the UK. We are working towards being the one stop shop for consumers to buy restaurant quality food that can be made in the comfort of their own home. At the end of the day, it’s about cementing and nurturing the relationships with our incredible restaurants, long term. We want to make selling meal kits an easy, effortless and exciting new revenue stream for them all… the idea is to build with them in the future to make meal kits a standard part of their businesses. In the past, restaurants have offered Eat-in and Takeaway options to enjoy their food, but we see the future offering to be Eat-in, Takeaway and Meal Kits.

As Londoners, how do you feel that post-lockdown London will differ from before?

With an entire year of changed routines and changed behaviour, it is almost a given that these will stick with people, post-lockdown. Many businesses have decided to make working in an office voluntary, meaning socialising after work in Central London will definitely reduce. We have noticed this in the increasing number of corporate orders placed through Plateaway. Pizza and cocktail nights have been particularly popular and with repeat customers, it’s safe to say the corporate world behaviour will differ moving forward (and we think for the yummier!).

What are you looking forward to doing the most once London fully reopens?

We are definitely excited to meet all our restaurant partners, in person, and all the people we have worked with for the past year, virtually. We are also super excited to go out to restaurants and return to normal life.

If you want to order a restaurant kit with Plateaway, click here. To enquire about a corporate order please email [email protected]. Main image: Carluccio’s meal kit, background image: Primrose Bakery Cupcake Icing And Decorating Kit £28.