VBites cafe opens in Chester
Let’s hope this is the start of something huge.
Earlier this week, I found myself in the northern city of Chester for the grand opening of the VBites cafe located inside a Holland & Barrett outlet. I had been invited along by the PR team for the health food chain (they kindly paid for my train ticket) as they wanted me to see the new concession in action, as well as chat with owner Heather Mills about the cafe.
My take on the new cafe? It’s a completely revolutionary concept for the UK.
As the photo above shows, the VBites concession inside Holland & Barrett Chester looks like any other fast food outlet and that is why this is such a smart idea.
Through a partnership with the UK-wide chain, Mills has a plan to have 25 of these outlets trading within two years and the PR team kept whispering about Bristol being next on the timetable.
This could be the way that we are going to get a 100% vegan cafe on high streets around the country. During my interview with her Heather and I laughed several times about VBites being the vegan McDonalds, but I was only partially joking.
You only need to look at the layout and the inexpensive menu featuring burgers, hot dogs, salad bowls and sandwiches to notice VBites has followed a tried and tested fast food formula. All of the stores are going to be exactly the same, with the same menu and same level of service. I don’t think I have seen anything like this anywhere on the planet.
As these concessions roll out across the UK, we will have to get used to having vegan fast food cafes in major cities and towns. The cafes owned by Mills’ company will be located inside Holland & Barrett stores, but there is opportunity for franchisees to establish their own stand-alone VBites restaurant.
I’m grateful we have someone as dedicated as Heather Mills taking a giant financial risk of this kind. She might just be bringing vegan fast food to the UK masses before any of us thought it possible.
Listen to my full, unedited interview with Heather Mills below. We discuss her own journey to veganism, the challenges her business faces in the UK and how she plans to take the VBites cafe concept around the planet.
The video is accompanied by a slide show featuring photos from the opening. You will not have to try very hard to spot former world champion snooker player Neil Robertson. Neil was on hand to lend his weight to the new endeavour as he has been eating exclusively-vegan food for a few months.
Due to my excitement of being in a proper vegan fast food outlet, I managed to forget to photograph my food. Thankfully, Fiona of VBites sent me the following gorgeous high res images. Enjoy!
I would also like to give a massive shout out to the vegan staff working in the VBites cafe, especially Kate and Helen. They were incredibly friendly to me during my visit and it doesn’t hurt to hear them singing the praises of my blog. Flattery works a charm on FGV!
For the sheer joy of standing at a 100% vegan fast food counter, get along to the Chester outlet of VBites as soon as you can. Stay tuned for more locations as they are announced and support this massive shift in the UK food landscape.
Yay for the vegan revolution!
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We ate here last week and were really impressed! It is great to see such a range of vegan food, and if be presented in a down to earth way. I really hope we see more of them! And cakes!! Lots of vegan cakes!! Everything a fat vegan can need :). And agreed the staff were ace too. Friendly and helpful. Would love to see some seating inside too so we can sit and enjoy the food.
Brilliant! 😀 It was so lovely to have you there, and awesome to meet you! – Kate
Not so sure about ‘first’ though, redveg had multiple outlets in London and Brighton serving the same kind of menu that vbites are?
RedVeg was not a vegan outlet.
Really hope Bristol is next on the list of outlets to open. The city is awash with culinary delights inspired by it’s residents who really do make up the coolest melting pot of ethnicities. Vegan food is probably one of the few culinary specialities which isn’t as well represented, so this outlet really will be welcomed. I live about 15 miles from Bristol but would definitely make the journey to sample the delights and get in a bit of retail therapy at the same time. Can’t wait.
Ah what a lovely lady. I remember seeing Heather at Brighton Vegfest about 5 years ago talking about the same vision. Hope to see more VBites around the UK soon!
Please open one in South Wales, Cardiff
Please tell me do they use either sustainable palm oil or a different type of oil in their kitchen? I am so tired of vegan and vegetarian foods not being animal aware from earlier down the food chain.
Excellent interview and write up. I too was there…. Very impressed also, especially with how realistically priced the menu was. Had a chat with Lee the MD, we share similar thoughts, motivations and ethos. Very much liked! I tried the ‘fish less’ cakes. They reminded of West Indian Accras!
Great stuff, Thankyou
Any chance of one opening in Cardiff
If the menu is the same as the Brighton Cafe, I’m rather horrified by the prices.