A how-to for health food

It’s a tough time for restaurants at the moment. The news the past couple of years has seen trouble across many of the big chains, with closures for the likes of Carluccio’s, Prezzo and Strada – and, in the case of Jamie’s Italian, closing down altogether. According to a 2017 Deloitte report, the casual dining market in the UK has become threatened by a fall in consumer confidence, an analysis that’s been borne out by the many closures which have followed since then. 

In this climate, then, many would argue that it’s a fool’s errand to be opening your own food & drink business. Along with tightened pursestrings in consumers and prohibitive business rates, there are the age old difficulties of the trade: margins are tight, food trends change, and it’s a stressful, unsociable enterprise for everyone behind the scenes.

However, there are still restaurateurs and cafe-owners who are making it work – and for whom the stresses and challenges are reaping them rewards. One of those is ICON client Avobar, a health food focused cafe opened in Covent Garden, central London, in 2017.

We recently worked with them to produce their playful, eye catching merch, and we spoke to co-founder Liana Kazaryan to hear about how she and her co-founder started the business, and to hear her top tips for anyone looking to make their own mark in the food.

How to start a successful health food restaurant

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Hey weekend, we’re ready for you 🙌🏼💚 [📸: @londoncoffeeshops ] #Avobar #BeautifulSuperfood #Avobrunch

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1. Find a shared vision

More than ever, it’s vital to have a firm sense of your brand. If you’re starting a business with a friend or business partner, it’s vital to work together to agree on what your vision is. This means you can distinguish yourself from your competitors, and your vision can guide how you develop the different parts of your business. 

In the case of Avobar, this has manifested itself in the ingredients they focus on – or the one ingredient, to be precise, that they reference in their name. “We really enjoyed the idea of the focus being on a single ingredient,” Kazaryan recalls.

 In turn, this led them to the plan to create a health food cafe, but framed in a way that felt original. “The idea of an avocado bar then conceptualised into a health food restaurant, where you don’t necessarily think of being in one,” she says.

2. Engage with your community

While they might take an original slant on the sector, Kazaryan still sees their business as part of the health food scene, and as such, says it’s vital to be engaged with the dialogue that takes place in that world. The conversation about health food is constantly ongoing,” she says. “I would stress the importance of always being part of the conversation and education.”

At the same time, they have their own vision of what a health food cafe should be, and who their imagined client base are; moulding their offering to cater to that community, she says, is just as important as the wider sector of which they’re a part. “We set out to create a place where a group of friends, all with different lifestyles and dietary requirements, could gather and it not being an issue for either one of them.”

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Let’s get cosy with our 💯 organic cotton Avo Sweatshirt 🥰🥑 #RestockAlert Also available online via @maison_flaneur along with other Avo goodies 🙌🏼

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3. Use merch to cement your brand

Avobar worked with ICON to create a range of merch including sweaters and organic cotton tote bags, and have also produced branded reusable glass cups. Firstly, creating merch with their distinctive, avocado-tagged branding is a great way to advertise their business, and for customers to strengthen their bond with the restaurant. Second, the tote bags and reusable cups underscore the sustainable ethos they try to convey.

“We offer a range of products that are practical and which allow us to continue ‘the conversation’ we have with our guests beyond food,” Kazaryan says. “When they use our branded reusable glass cups in their daily lives for example, or bring the Avobar organic cotton tote when out shopping.”

Want to create merch for your restaurant or business? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting a number of clients in the coffee trade, as well as clients ranging from such as WeWork to Boiler Room and the Tate. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.