Interviews

This company is catering for all tastes and bringing summer to the corporates

4 min read

21 April 2016

Former deputy editor

Making its target audience abundantly clear in the company name, Foodie Folk is a catering enterprise delivering cuisine for a variety of sectors – the most lucrative of which is, surprisingly, corporate barbecues.

Mark Stone is the man behind the brand. He launched Foodie Folk after a 12-year run in the food trade, during which he supplied hospitality venues including hotels and restaurants.

Believing that he could command a piece of the market, Stone launched a café in 2012 and from there the outside catering arm of the business, the main focus, was introduced.

Opening up on Foodie Folk’s bread and butter – pun intended – Stone detailed to Real Business: “Our main revenue stream is corporate barbecues.” That’s quite an impressive feat when you consider how notoriously bad the British weather is.

In fact, Stone said the company’s biggest achievement was catering for 3,000 guests at one of the corporate feasts where expectations, and appetites, were high. Of course, things ran without a hitch.

He added: “We cater for large numbers and also do events, private catering, wedding, schools and clubs, providing breakfasts, buffets and so on.”

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Stone explained that the business is able to thrive because of the convenience and mobility element to the service – what he calls “fantastic food” helps too.

“We bring live cooking to you and bring everything you need for a great culinary social experience,” he said.

The main component to help get the operation off the ground was convincing customers to believe in the brand and the food, with events providing the chance to be noticed. “Being given a chance to prove ourselves,” was ultimately the ingredient needed, Stone opined.

Foodie Folk also has business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark (E-Spark) to thank for helping bring success to the table.

“E-Spark has really made me focus on where my growth is and how it is scalable. It has given me an environment where I can discuss my business with people who understand business,” Stone revealed.

“You are pushed out of your comfort zone and into doing things that are uncomfortable, but they make you better as a person/businessman.”

On the subject of discomfort, Stone said the biggest difficulty was being forced to work in the business instead of on the business because he couldn’t afford more staff. “It was a constant cash flow battle. An untrustworthy employee caused some trouble,” he explained.

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With trouble behind him, Stone said his five-year goal is to become the top BBQ caterer in Northern Ireland, with a sizable equipment hire business also attached.

Stone’s drive and inspiration has been Rich Sauces founder Trevor Kells. “He started with failure, got back up and produced a product in a highly competitive market, which was better than competitors,” he said.

“Kells had the courage to be significantly more expensive than competitors but believed in his product to become a very successful company.”

Closing on his advice for other entrepreneurs in his shoes, Stone said: “Have a plan, a specific focus and be prepared to change as you develop.”

On the topic of food, if you’re tired of the same routine meal deal for lunch, you may want to give the strange eating habits of the world’s most successful people a try to shake things up.