Maaike de Reuver  Wouter Noordijk

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

  3 min

The Dutch government announced a lockdown on the 15th of March. All restaurants were forced to close their doors to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. During that time an emerging entrepreneur made an innovative move. Mathilde van der Weerd started her own business: a delivery restaurant and ghost kitchen named Fallafellow.

Disruptive Amsterdam based entrepreneur starts
delivery restaurant Falafellow during lockdown
OPENING A NEW RESTAURANT
IN TIMES OF COVID-19
Why did you start a
business during a time of crisis?

“Fallafellow was founded due to these times. I believe that a period of crisis always brings opportunity. I live in the north of Amsterdam and during lockdown I discovered that the variety of food delivery in my neighborhood was very limited. Spare-ribs and burgers were widely available, but nothing more exciting than that. Out of personal frustration over this market failure, the idea for a better, healthier, more exciting alternative was born. In two weeks time I put my business plan for action into gear.”

Why falafel?

“I conducted a survey among the residents of my apartment complex. I asked what their needs and likes were. The result was a demand for healthier take-out food but with the same feeling of comfort and convenience as a conventional take-away meal. That’s how I got the idea for two types of falafel; either in flatbread with fries on the side or a healthier version served in a salad with fresh greens.”

How did you proceed?

“The idea for Falafellow began on the 31st of March. Two weeks later we opened. In a very short period of time we furnished a kitchen, built a website and invented recipes: in fact we created a whole new concept from scratch. We use a ghost kitchen for our production. The first evening we sold about twenty meals. It gave us a huge boost of energy.”

Did you get a lot of help?

“The beauty of tough times like these, is that everyone is tuned in. People are ready and willing to help each other out. Friends who were stuck at home stopped by spontaneously to help me roll balls of falafel. A food design agency helped me to develop recipes. A kitchen supplier made a kitchen available to us free of charge. A wholesaler was able to provide us with the necessary ingredients and the rent for our workspace was postponed for the first few weeks. We made plans for the first two months only, leaving the decision to continue the business depending on it’s success within this timeframe.”

Have you continued after lockdown?

“Yes we did. From the first of June restaurants in the Netherlands were - under strict conditions - allowed to re-open. For us it was the moment to decide if we would continue. We then made the choice to carry on. The demand for our meals continued to grow. We already had three employees and our revenue doubled every week. It seemed crazy to stop. In the meantime we’re planning to expand to two extra locations elsewhere in the city.”

“In the Netherlands you notice: even though restaurants are open again, a lot of people are still homebound. The virus is still present. A healthy delivery meal can be a welcome variation to home cooking.” 

Have you considered opening
a restaurant where people can sit,
other than your ghost kitchen?

“Yes we’ve certainly thought about it, but we decided not to. Our concept and meals are designed and created for delivery. Running a restaurant where people can visit in person, is a totally different kettle of fish. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it, but with Falafellow we consciously choose to do only delivery. By specializing in quality and speed we provide comfort and convenience.”

 “I believe that a period
of crisis always brings
opportunity”

“Running a restaurant
where people can visit in
person, is a totally different
kettle of fish”

OPENING A NEW RESTAURANT IN TIMES OF COVID-19

INTERVIEW

  3 min

OPENING A NEW RESTAURANT
IN TIMES OF COVID-19
Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.
Disruptive Amsterdam based entrepreneur starts a delivery restaurant Falafellow during lockdown

The Dutch government announced a lockdown on the 15th of March. All restaurants were forced to close their doors to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. During that time an emerging entrepreneur made an innovative move. Mathilde van der Weerd started her own business: a delivery restaurant and ghost kitchen named Fallafellow.

Maaike de Reuver  Wouter Noordijk

Why did you start a
business during a time of crisis?

“Fallafellow was founded due to these times. I believe that a period of crisis always brings opportunity. I live in the north of Amsterdam and during lockdown I discovered that the variety of food delivery in my neighborhood was very limited. Spare-ribs and burgers were widely available, but nothing more exciting than that. Out of personal frustration over this market failure, the idea for a better, healthier, more exciting alternative was born. In two weeks time I put my business plan for action into gear.”

Why falafel?

“I conducted a survey among the residents of my apartment complex. I asked what their needs and likes were. The result was a demand for healthier take-out food but with the same feeling of comfort and convenience as a conventional take-away meal. That’s how I got the idea for two types of falafel; either in flatbread with fries on the side or a healthier version served in a salad with fresh greens.”

How did you proceed?

“The idea for Falafellow began on the 31st of March. Two weeks later we opened. In a very short period of time we furnished a kitchen, built a website and invented recipes: in fact we created a whole new concept from scratch. We use a ghost kitchen for our production. The first evening we sold about twenty meals. It gave us a huge boost of energy.”

Did you get a lot of help?

“The beauty of tough times like these, is that everyone is tuned in. People are ready and willing to help each other out. Friends who were stuck at home stopped by spontaneously to help me roll balls of falafel. A food design agency helped me to develop recipes. A kitchen supplier made a kitchen available to us free of charge. A wholesaler was able to provide us with the necessary ingredients and the rent for our workspace was postponed for the first few weeks. We made plans for the first two months only, leaving the decision to continue the business depending on it’s success within this timeframe.”

Have you continued after lockdown?

“Yes we did. From the first of June restaurants in the Netherlands were - under strict conditions - allowed to re-open. For us it was the moment to decide if we would continue. We then made the choice to carry on. The demand for our meals continued to grow. We already had three employees and our revenue doubled every week. It seemed crazy to stop. In the meantime we’re planning to expand to two extra locations elsewhere in the city.”

“In the Netherlands you notice: even though restaurants are open again, a lot of people are still homebound. The virus is still present. A healthy delivery meal can be a welcome variation to home cooking.” 

 “I believe that a period
of crisis always brings
opportunity”
Have you considered opening
a restaurant where people can sit, other than your ghost kitchen?

“Yes we’ve certainly thought about it, but we decided not to. Our concept and meals are designed and created for delivery. Running a restaurant where people can visit in person, is a totally different kettle of fish. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it, but with Falafellow we consciously choose to do only delivery. By specializing in quality and speed we provide comfort and convenience.”

“Running a restaurant
where people can visit in person, is a totally different kettle of fish”

Overview magazines

Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration. The free subscription magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for food and hospitality professionals. Our readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
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