Entrepreneur life: Meet the founders of The Mussel Pot & Grill
17 December 2018
Street food is big business in the UK, it’s estimated to be worth £1.2bn in 2018*, and Yorkshire is known for quite a few delicious and successful brands that are regulars on the food festival scene. If you’re a bit of a foodie you not only regularly eat street food, you’ve probably also considered quitting your day job to set up a street food business. Our friends Donna and Martin did just that, they co-founded The Mussel Pot & Grill over three years ago and haven’t looked back.
Now one of Yorkshire’s most established street food brands, they are famous for mussels steamed to order in their tasty signature sauces and a seasonal menu of mouth-watering grilled seafood and crowd-pleasing meaty barbeque favourites. Local Yorkshire folk may recognise them from Thor’s Winter Tipi in Leeds, and they spent this summer in York at Thor’s Summer Tipi and Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre pop up. We caught up with Donna and Martin over a brew to discuss life as entrepreneurs and of course, food!
Was there a specific trigger or moment that made you decide to go for it and set up your own street food business?
Yes, we were unhappy in our current positions and work:life balance, so rather than keep grumbling, we decided to start our business.
You’re now famous for your tasty mussels. Why did you choose to specialise in mussels?
We love seafood. We did a lot of research online and went to lots food festivals. We attended a mussel festival at Rick Steins pub in Cornwall and we looked how quickly they were serving mussels there. We quickly realised that we had found our niche and it was something to build upon.
Were you still working another job whilst you built TMPG?
We were both in employment and just did a few food festivals to test the water in the first year.
You’ve been running The Mussel Pot & Grill for over three years now. Is your business easier to run now than it was 3 years ago?
Definitely. It comes with the experience gained.
What are you most proud of TMPG achieving in the last three years?
Various things but progressing the business and keeping things fresh. Changing our menus to suit everyone is enjoyable. Most of all is being full time TMPG!
How has your work:life balanced changed over the last 3 years?
It’s amazing. We work damn hard when we are out and about but then we get lots of time off too. It’s fantastic to be able to plan holidays etc.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how tough is it to set up and build a successful business.
Assuming 10 being the toughest we would say 5. We have worked tirelessly to make a go of our business and have sometimes felt like walking away but we didn’t. We struggled through some losses and made mistakes but got back up brushed ourselves down and it’s paid off, thankfully.
What’s the best thing about running your own company?
Is there anything that you know now that you wish you knew when you started TMPG?
Lots but mainly that we need to keep bouncing new ideas and move with the time! Keep refreshing menus and offer something for everyone.
Any tips or advice for budding entrepreneurs that want to start their own business?
Asking the right questions to event organisers. Grill them, ask them where they get their figures from. Don’t get lead down the garden path and get ripped off! Go to events and check them out first. Follow your gut instinct. Ask other traders how they have done.
And finally. What’s your favourite dish on the TMPG menu?
Donna: The dish I love the most is our red Thai mussels. I always had the classic mussels with white wine, cream and garlic previously in restaurants then Martin made his red Thai sauce and I absolutely love it.
We can definitely vouch for TMPG’s mussels in red Thai sauce they are the best! The Mussel Pot & Grill will be serving up their delicious street food at Thor’s Tipi in Leeds city centre until December 31st 2018. Support your local, independent businesses and pop in for your lunch or tea any day of the week.