Griff Holland is the co-founder of the deliciously different group of fast-food restaurants, Friska. Griff had a vision, one that he just couldn’t get out of his head even when on his travels post-uni. Then, he met Ed, and who helped him not only better his vision, but make it REAL. In this episode, Griff in apologetically himself – guaranteed to make you smile. Let him talk to you about how his love of hospitality is simple, but huge, and the passion he has for his business is truly wonderful.
00:00:00 Marks introduction
00:02:21 Meeting Griff Holland, setting the scene in Bristol
00:03:00 Where did the idea of getting into fast food restaurants come from?
- 00:03:24 “The resounding memory of that Californian holiday was food, drink and hospitality.”
- 00:05:47 “Nowhere had made me feel how I felt in California when I went to drink, eat and just be in these hospitable places. And I just thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if there were places like this in England.”
00:10:11 Research into food whilst travelling in 2007 – Griff’s obsession
- 00:11:55 “So I wrote my business plan for six months while saving up to go travelling, then I went travelling and spent three months in India, which was just incredible, then I went to Vietnam, Thailand, and then sort of came back.”
- 00:13:54 “One of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, wasn’t fancy at all, cost a couple of quid but the food was incredible. The view was incredible… And I was chai tea tasting.”
- 00:15:19 “I remember spending days in the shopping centre, in the food court, watching people choose what they wanted for lunch, then id approach them and ask why they chose that and what they thought of the bloody logo! I just then thought what are you doing?!”
00:16:22 Was the business already called Friska?
00:17:15 When did the business start and how did Griff meet his co-founder, Ed?
- 00:18:22 “It was typically technology events that I’d go to.. and everyone’s like ‘Who is this bloke that’s trying to sell food? What’s he doing here?!’ Anyway, I met this other young buck and we got talking, and it turned out his name was Ed…”
00:20:39 The decision of going into partnership with someone else – have they always got on?
- 00:20:58 “I have many weaknesses. More weaknesses than strengths. And so I kind of think – if you’ve got an idea, and you’ve got all the passion and drive to do something but you don’t tick all the boxes, it kinda makes more sense to go in and do it with someone who ticks the boxes you don’t tick.”
00:22:36 The first Friska – how was it built and funded?
- 00:25:20 “I remember the oven broke on day 2, the chiller exploded before we even opened… You know, we did it on the cheap because we didn’t have any money.”
- 00:25:38 “Ed’s first day in hospitality was the first day we opened Friska.”
00:26:37 Making some big mistakes…
- 00:28:44 “We had things you would normally order in a restaurant or make from a cook book – we had on our menu. And people weren’t expecting that and they hadn’t come across it before.”
- 00:31:41 “You need to make it easy for your customers to become fans and get what you do.”
- 00:33:10 “We launched with mediocre coffee. The beans were good, they were good beans. But they weren’t made well, because we didn’t appreciate how important coffee was to people.”
- 00:22:51 “I guess the lesson to learn from that: if you’ve got a set of values, whatever they may be, you’ve got to apply them to whatever you do.”
00:34:38 How long was it before Friska started actually getting some good business?
- 00:35:19 “Theyre going to barristas over the road to get their coffee then theyre coming back to our place to get their breakfast – well that’s crazy!”
00:34:41 What does ‘feel good’ mean to Friska?
- 00:37:14 “Friska isn’t feel good food, it’s actually a feel good company that sells food and sells drink and employs people that make peoples day. It’s as simple as that.”
00:38:02 Has Griff made it easier for people to come to Friska now?
00:40:11 How do you find good people to work in hospitality?
- 00:41:47 “The company that you actually are, is your brand.”
- 00:42:20 “How you find those people is my building a company that people want to be a part of.”
- 00:43:17 “We’ve never paid minimum wage. Now, I’m not pretending that people are rolling around in Bentleys and wearing Rolex watches after a shift at Friska’s – they’re not! It’s a hard industry. Our customers, despite loving us, don’t tip us because we aren’t a ‘tippy’ kind of place.”
00:46:00 Customer service training at Friska
- 00:46:45 “You can’t ever train a superstar because they’ve ‘got it’, I think in our industry, or they don’t.”
- 00:48:43 “Get rid of bad eggs, because a bad egg spoils the omelette – you know? You want double yolkers, because double yolkers make an omelette better!”
00:49:54 How many Friska’s are there now?
- 00:51:25 “And as I say, no track record. We had a pretty unsuccessful business at Victoria Street from a revenue point of view, but the reputation that we were building and the values that we poorly communicated because we didn’t have any money for any branding or anything like that… Came through. You cannot fake that.”
- 00:52:56 “We had a lot of opportunity that came about not because we are successful business people, but because we were committed to doing something really well.”
00:54:43 What makes a good Friska town?
- 00:55:56 “Big glass buildings, lots of people milling around… Have they got a daily routine that involves food and drink? Do they eat, do they drink, do they need to go out for it? If they do – then yeah. It’s a good place for a Friska.”
00:57:17 Fast food and sustainability at Friska
- 00:58:44 “But no one likes eating with wooden cutlery. When you put a wooden spoon in your mouth, especially on your tongue – it feels horrible! When you cut a slice of sourdough bread with a wooden knife and fork, the wood snaps! So do you wanna feel really good about wooden cutlery that snaps every time you go to cut a piece of bread or do you actually wanna just serve plastic cutlery that does what it’s meant to do?”
- 01:01:48 “I just feel quite uncomfortable about doing things purely for how it reads and how it is perceived.”
01:05:04 Do people care? Friskas connection to charity
- 01:07:09 “I think they care, but the function has got to be there. They’re not gonna buy Viatnemese pho noodles because it’s the Deki dish. They’re gonna buy it because they really like the taste and then feel really good it supports a charity.”
01:08:14 Deki as a charity – what does it do? It’s not just as simple as a bit of food for a donation!
01:10:59 What has been the most challenging, and rewarding, part of Friska?
- 01:12:58 “Even after ten years and two weeks of doing inductions at Friska, I still feel really excited and my hairs on my arms stand on end still when I talk about what we’re all about and talk about the mission of Friska.”
01:16:07 Where does Griff see Friska going in the future? How is he going to ensure the soul and energy of the business never leaves?
- 01:17:32 “I would love there to be hundreds of Friscas in England and Wales and Scotland, I’d love there to be potentially thousands of Friscas in the world. It’s easy to say that – I might as well say a million, a billion, a gazillion…”
01:20:47 Where can you go to find out more about Griff, Ed and Friska?
01:21:42 Marks final thoughts and signoff
If you’d like to learn more about Griff, Ed and Friska – check out their website and social channels below, or listen to the full episode here.