A SHARED passion for food and a chance meeting at the school gates has led to a distinctive eaterie being established in south Liverpool.
Nichola Lee and Andrea Edwards opened the Interesting Eating Company in Allerton Road in May and they are so pleased with its success so far that they are now looking at possible sites for a second outlet.
The outlet is targeting a market between coffee shops and restaurants.
Its speciality is pancakes inspired by time spent by Andrea in the US 20 years ago.
It also offers a full breakfast menu, salads, sandwiches, a children’s menu and a range of shakes which can incorporate well known chocolate bars such as Twix, Bounty and Snickers.
Andrea also says they want to establish a reputation for offering “great take-out coffee”.
She said: “We are bringing a different type of food to the Allerton Road area.
“Our USP is pancakes and we have also gone with two signature dishes – a hot salt beef on rye sandwich and traditional chicken soup.
“And we have just been told by one customer who travels the world that it is the best chicken soup he has ever tasted.
“I lived in the US 20 years ago and have spent my whole time since I got back wanting to do something around pancakes.
“However, with family, kids work, it was never the right time. But then I met Nichola in August 2011.”
Nichola added: “I was looking to set up a business around food and I felt there was a a gap in the market. I was looking for a partner.
“We met at the playground and it was through a chance conversation that we realised we both had a passion for food.”
Both Andrea and Nichola run their own business consultancies – Andrea’s is Your Ideal Business Partner and Nichola’s is Prospera Solutions.
Nichola spent several years working in the public sector and her final role was director of food strategy for Liverpool City Council.
She said: “Historically the city has not had a great reputation for food..
“That has changed now and I’ve discovered through my own research that peoples’ memory of any place they visit will be strongly linked to food.
“Food is a very strong emotional driver so as our visitor economy grows we have to ask ‘is our food offer substantial and appropriate for the market place’.
“The market we sit in is above a coffee shop but not a restaurant. That offer for something quirky that offers quality is missing.
“If you go to the city centre for a business meeting then you have a choice of places to go, but if you go out into the suburbs there is a lot less choice. There were coffee shops and lovely restaurants but nothing in between and I thought ‘there has to be a better option than this’.”
Both are continuing to develop their own separate consultancy businesses while taking strategic development roles with The Interesting Easting Company.
Andrea explained: “My background is in the food retail business.
“It has been my passion for 20 years to create a brand and put together a business like this.
“We do not run it ourselves. We have an amazing staff. I’m a great believer in the idea that to have a sustainable business you need to have great people.
“However, you will find both Nichola and I helping out Saturdays and Sundays – washing dishes, clearing tables, whatever is needed.
We are very much a kid-friendly environment. You can see the ice cream cabinet when you walk in and we have used very bright colours.
“We are very much attracting families and mums that lunch. We are also happy to hire out the space for private parties.”
Nichola added: “We are planning to expand in 2013 and we are already looking at locations elsewhere in Liverpool. Our ambition is big and I think the rest of the North West offers a lot of potential for us.”