Expess Mussels !
- small budget
- deliver / take away
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Ah! Mussels and chips… who doesn’t employ that? The northern Europeans are particularly fond of mussels and the British and French both classify them in their top 3 favorite meals.
Mussels have been eaten since pre-histoire times and they are still consumed almost everywhere in the world. Even if you live in a country where mussels are nowhere nearly as popular as in France and in the Benelux, don’t let that put you off my concept because one thing for sure: everyone loves to eat chips!
Preparing mussels and chips at home requires some effort and people don’t always feel like cooking, even at weekends. Some people refuse to fry chips at home, they dislike the smell of oil. As a result, most people ea mussels only in restaurants, but outside Belgium and French coastal regions they’re not so easy to find. I’m going to explain to you how you can exploit this niche on a tight budget. It’s easy to find scrubbed, ready to use mussels either fresh, vacuum-packed or frozen, either cooked or raw. The best is to buy them in bulk and to clean them yourself. You’ll find machines to do this job at suppliers such as Gastrodirect or Minerva, at a reasonable price. You may be able to find a fish supplier who can deliver your mussels daily.
In terms of kitchen equipment all you need is a professional hob, a few large pots, cold storage (not too big as mussels don’t keep for very long), a deep-freeze and if possible a professional steamer and a double-boiler where you can keep the sauces that you serve over your mussels warm. You’ll also need a professional deep fat fryer. Consider buying your equipment second-hand.
Cooking mussels is a lot easier than making pizza. There are 3 basic recipes: plain, marinières and provençales. You can also cook them with curry, with Roquefort or more rarely with cream or mustard. The choice is vast but in this concept stick to the classic recipes.
Now let’s turn our attention to how you’re going to sell these delicious mussels while investing very little money. The answer is simple: you are going to deliver them! You just need to procure suitable containers to minimize heat loss during delivery. The economic model of the pizza inspired me while creating this concept and I searched for an idea capable of being exploited in the same way. And that’s how I came up with moules-frites, mussels and fries. Indeed, mussels are probably easier to deliver than pizza. For a start, good pizza is not so easy to make. Let’s face it, we’ve all eaten some horrendous stuff! On the other hand, it’s hard to go wrong with mussels and chips. If you can’t get it right perhaps you should change job, a career in catering is not for you!
Economically speaking, the cost of producing your moules-frites will be close to that of making pizza, perhaps lower. The only potential problems are your choice of mussels and your choice of containers and packaging.
All you have to do is test everything before launching your business. The rest is easy, pizza delivery services have already invented everything for you:
-Distribute advertisement flyers in all letter boxes in your area, stating your menu and prices clearly.
-Have your food delivered by car or by scooter.
-Provide special offers such as the fourth meal free or complementary drinks when the order reaches a certain amount.
-Their dessert menu will inspire you.
And thanks to our friends the pizzaiolos, you’ll even know where to locate your business. Basically you both have the same clientele. And like them, your business relies on your customers’ laziness or lack of time to cook. Like them, most of your turnover will be generated by your evening trade, although you may have a lunch-time clientele too.
Mussels will make a welcome change from pizza for an evening in front of the TV. In fact you could remain closed some lunch-times to allow you more time to organize your evening trade.
There are, however, some differences between you and the pizza deliverers. Firstly, you don’t need to add anything else to your menu such as salads, lasagnes, paninis. Having said that, it might be a good idea to have nuggets on your menu because some children don’t like mussels.
Another difference concerns drinks. You should stock a wider choice of wine, particularly white wine, but keep your prices reasonable. Keep a close eye on the quality of your wine, your clientele will be more epicurean than those who order pizza. Provide several good beers too.
When choosing your location, look for an area of at least 30,000 inhabitants, where there are 4 or 5 thriving pizza delivery businesses. Observe how they work, how many cars or scooters they have on the road (now that’s what I call marketing!). Choose a densely populated area so that delivery times are kept to a minimum. You won’t need a prime location for your business and your premises doesn’t need to be big. Provide safe parking for your scooter fleet if that’s what you plan to use for delivery.
If your premises are big enough you could sell take-away. Whichever your case, don’t overspend on your premises.
Distribute flyers 3 times over a 2 month period to all letterboxes in the area. After that, distribute your menu 3 or 4 times a year.
So you see you don’t have to be an accomplished chef to make a living from this concept.
Bonus: once your business is up and running I have 2 more ideas for you. The first is to deliver roast chickens if nobody else is doing it in your area. The second is to deliver sea-food platters at weekends.