Their famous Breakfast In Bread® stuffed sourdough loaves, along with a carefully curated brunch cocktail menu, established brunch at The Barge House restaurant in Hackney, an extremely popular destination.
When lockdown hit in March earlier this year, and the team learned that The Barge House would be forced to close, it was clear that a new initiative was needed and fast.
By the end of May, Breakfast En Bread was formed to test the potential of delivering the product to a wider audience. The legendary Breakfast In Bread® in DIY form was born!
Moving to Shiptheory has given us a label that prints reliably and clearly, all the information that our packing team need to achieve maximum efficiency. Our previous provider had numerous flaws, and support was lacking, whereas the support available from Shiptheory, specifically Rita and Joseph, has been prompt and helpful. It's been a joy!
Q: Tell us about the story so far and what makes Breakfast En Bread different from other brunch meal kits?
A: At the start of 2020, The Barge House was trading well as an established and thriving canal-side restaurant in Hackney. Since their conception in 2014, they had become well known for their signature dish known as Breakfast In Bread; sourdough loaves filled with either a full English breakfast or a variety of alternative vegetarian and vegan offerings. With such a unique and indulgent menu designed specifically for the emerging all-day brunch market, they quickly achieved destination status and a devoted global following.
Six years on from conception and the business was serving up to 600 of these loaded loaves every single weekend. So, when lockdown hit in March earlier this year, and the team learned that The Barge House would be forced to close, it was clear that a new initiative was needed and fast. The impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant, and right across the sector, would be so serious that to save the business, keep the team in employment and the local community thriving, founders Fred and Debbie were forced to adapt and reinvent their product in order to survive.
Q: What were the challenges of turning your legendary Bread En Breakfast into DIY form?
A: When I joined the team, we immediately regrouped, simplified the offer and looked to long-standing suppliers to collaborate. Tests for cooking, chilling, and vacuum packing were fast-tracked, packaging was designed, and test boxes were delivered, each with an ice pack and a free-range egg for every loaf. By the end of May, Breakfast En Bread was formed to test the potential of delivering the product to a wider audience. The biggest challenge was getting the packaging right, and when we look back now at the brunch boxes we were sending, we're a little embarrassed. Everything has been refined and refined continually since the first weeks, and we've learned a lot!
Q: The pandemic has touched everyone's lives and changed our social landscape at an unimaginable scale. We had to rethink and adapt our daily routines and consumer habits. When this is all over, do you think we'll go back to our old habits, or will these new behaviours stick in the long term?
A: Naturally, there will be a huge relief when restaurants reopen, and a great many of us, me included, will want to get back out there and support our favourite bars and restaurants. But there has been a huge shift change in how society works since lockdown #1, along with a significant investment from restaurants to develop home deliveries. This isn't going away. And there will, of course, be a big percentage of those that will be extremely cautious about venturing out again, many will still be shielding, and many will have really enjoyed having a restaurant experience at home, so we're confident to keep investing.
Q: What's been your most significant achievement to this point?
A: Growing a new nationwide customer base has been a real thrill for all of us, especially the founders who previously were limited by their geographical location, and to see orders going to the four corners of the British Isles is quite an achievement. But more importantly, we've managed to retain the team throughout and stay in employment ourselves, and that's been no mean feat.
Q: What's the process of creating a new Breakfast En Bread loaded bread loaf for your menu?
A: Well, we are, in fact, about to launch a brand-new loaf, The Lobster Roll, which for the team here is so exciting. The founders have a whole repertoire of recipes that they have been musing over, some for several years, but without a restaurant to run 24/7, this is definitely the time to realise them one by one. We like to interpret classics, just like with the lobster roll, then it's a series of recipe tests, taste tests and then trials with packaging.
Lobster roll photo: @johncareyphoto
Q: How does Shiptheory help you with managing your online orders?
A: Moving to Shiptheory has given us a label that prints reliably and clearly, all the information that our packing team need to achieve maximum efficiency. Our previous provider had numerous flaws, and support was lacking, whereas the support available from Shiptheory, specifically Rita and Joseph, has been prompt and helpful. It's been a joy, believe it or not.
Q: What does the future of Breakfast En Bread look like?
A: Today Breakfast En Bread can be ordered for next day delivery all over the UK from the new website. By the end of 2020, we had achieved a resilient business with turnover at 75% of pre-COVID-19 levels, and last month we surpassed volumes sold at The Barge House for the first time. We are already delivering every week to a huge variety of corporates (and friends and family) for Team Brunches since the virtual brunch has seriously become a 'thing'. We are about to start supplying our first boutique hotel in Shoreditch and are currently talking to some luxury food halls and high-quality supermarkets. The future is looking very bright, I'm pleased to say.
Photo: Pooja Parulekar @londoncoffeeshops