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Vegan-friendly fast food chain Just Falafel is not having a good run.

First of all the Covent Garden location shut down, followed by the Fulham Broadway outlet disappearing and now I’ve seen the following noticed pinned to the front door of the Hammersmith branch.

IMG_1039London is an exceptionally tough market and it looks like another Just Falafel got swallowed up by the ridiculous rents and out of control costs of running a business in the capital.

I reported on the chain branching out into Australia and North America a few months ago, so I would love to hear from anyone who has seen the take away joints popping up instead of shutting down.

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Written by fatgayvegan

  1. Such a shame, loved their falafels!

  2. I just moved from Sydney to London and it’s a shame to hear that since they seem to be doing well over in Australia (as you said). Here is to hoping that things get better for the franchise.

  3. I feel so sorry for the franchisees of Just Falafel who lost all their money trying to ride the wave of falafel frenzy that is taking a big chunk of the fast food sector

    Like the startup chains Otarian and Meaning Green before them, the franchisees of Just Falafel were doomed by the sheer stupidity and intransigence of their head office, who refused to listen to and offer decent options for their potentially best customers, vegans.

    Head office and franchisees several times asked me, as the author of seven editions of the guidebook Vegetarian London (which is actually vegan), what I thought of their menus. They then totally ignored my suggestions to offer very obvious things like vegan desserts and soya milk. As a result, I never ate at Just Fafel or felt I could promote them when there were so many other better places where I actually could enjoy a hot drink and a choice of desserts.

    Fust Falafel offered four desserts, all containing dairy, in a city where London Vegan Meetup has more members than London Vegetarian Meetup (4,063 versus 2,873 at today’s date). You cannot afford to turn away several thousand vegans who like to eat out. Even just 100 vegans a week in one branch spending just £5 each pays for one member of staff. No soya milk, only cow’s, in a country where 20% of milk sales are non-dairy. You cannot turn away 2 million Londoners. The margin on a cup of coffee is 90%. 100 cups of coffee a week at £2 is another ten grand you’ve just flushed down the toilet.

    The saddest example was when, knowing that I am vegan, they invited me to come and sample their new breakfasts in order to give feedback and promote them – all eight were non-vegan, so I said I can’t come, I don’t want a breatharian breakfast.

    The low fat baked falafels ontained egg. Great idea, utterly utterly hopeless buffoonery when it came to implementation. If yoy don’t serve chicken then you shouldn’t be using eggs. They come from the same place. Doh.

    In London there are 200 vegetarian restaurants, cafes and market stalls thriving by catering to the fastest growing sector of the food business, which is plant based. If only Just Falafel had listened to the feedback they had solicited, instead of burying their heads in the sand and sticking pig-headedly to their opening menu despite hundreds of vegans telling them they would become regular customers if they catered to us. They could be doing a roaring trade, like the many other falafel stalls and shops all over London that are either 100% vegan or very close to it.

    The lessons for other caterers are clear. 1. You cannot set up a vegetarian business and then treat vegans with utter contempt. 2. You must take seriously feedback from customers and act on it. What you end up serving will be what your customers actually want, not what worked in your country of origin. 3. Making your business 100% vegan is a great way to future proof it. Just look at the thriving businesses that FGV writes about every week. Vegan food is food that everyone can enjoy. And it’s automatically veggie, kosher, parve, halal, Hindu and Jain friendly too.

    I saw that the Just Falafel on Charing Cross Road by Leicester Square has also closed. I never ate there. A few minutes away in Old Compton Street, Maoz Falafel is booming. I and my friends go there every chance we get. They have food we love and can actually eat. And with the sad demise of Just Falafel, they will continue to show how it should have been done all along.

    Alex Bourke

  4. Alex actually summed up nicely what I was gonna say…I didn’t find Just Falafel thaaat vegan-friendly. And a lot of vegan-friendly eateries (yes, there are exceptions!)) are not closing because of high-rents etc…it’s because their business model and their food are just not up to scratch. Saf Shoreditch closed because of high rents if memory served me correctly..Saf Kensington closed because it just wasn’t up to the standard it set itself… There are plenty of veggie places that are thriving even in the high-rent city centre…Tibits, Mildreds, Maoz, Vantra/Vitao,

    Ethos seems to be doing well…. what all of them have in common is that they either had a sound business model to start with (and that included catering to vegans) or listened to customer feedback.

    Tibits increasing its vegan options massively and innovatively, no comparison with what it was like 6 years ago when I started going….Ethos listened when we all started whingeing that there wasn’t enough vegan choice when it opened.Call me harsh, but I don’t mourn the demise of a badly run business with dull food (and I DO NOT include Beatroot and Food for Thought in that category)

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