The Salad Project aims to provide people living and working in Central London with healthy, hearty, customisable salads. “Everything is made fresh, directly in front of the customer,” says co-founder Florian de Chezelles. Salad ingredients include roasted sweet potatoes, caramelised red onions, apples, maple walnuts and sticky soy tofu.

Together with James Dare, Florian opened his first salad bar in Spitalfields in May 2021. The co-founders have since opened a second in Bank and plan to open a third in Oxford Street. Last year, The Salad Project was named Restaurant of the Year for London by Uber Eats Awards.

“We’ve really invested in our customer experience - that’s what gets people in and keeps them coming back,” says Florian. “It’s about the details - the quality and freshness of the food, the provenance of ingredients, the location, the service and fit out of the salad bars themselves.”

The Salad Project is a Starling business customer.

Filling the salad gap

Florian and James, both 28, met while studying hospitality at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. “We started working in Central London and became frustrated with the lack of offerings in the niche world of salads,” says Florian.

Co-founders James Dare (left) and Florian de Chezelles (right)

“We’d always wanted to open a business together so in November 2019, we quit our jobs with the intention to open in April 2020.” When the pandemic hit, they already had rent and staff costs to pay.

“We were able to get a Bounce Back Loan through Starling, which was a lifeline. We’ve started paying it back now, slowly but surely. We haven’t missed a payment yet.”

The Salad Project opened in spring 2021, a time when offices weren’t as busy as they once had been, something that Florian and James look back on as a blessing. “It forced us to build a concept that leant itself to online sales, through deliveries or click and collect, as well as in person sales.”

Creating seasonal menus

The first person Florian and James hired was Clementine, their Culinary Director, who develops all their recipes. “She’s a certified nutritionist, personal trainer and graduate of Ballymaloe Cookery School, so she’s amazing at striking the balance between health and flavour,” says Florian.

“Part of our menu changes every season to showcase the best of what grows at that time.” Their salad for January includes cauliflower leaves, stalk and florets. Using all three parts of the cauliflower reduces waste.

The Salad Project is committed to reducing food waste

Last year, The Salad Project created a reusable bowl that customers can bring with them for their salads. Buying one kick-starts the loyalty programme, which rewards customers coming for the sixth time with a free salad. Customers without a bowl can use the Magic Stamp app to receive a free salad after their 10th visit.

“Word of mouth is the strongest marketing channel for us. We also do a newsletter, PR and social media and a lot of influencer partnerships. In the world of food, creators are always on the lookout for new content to talk about.”

Business banking with Starling

James and Florian have banked with Starling since 2019. “We want to engage with good modern, forward-thinking brands,” says Florian. “Starling felt aligned to the type of brand we’re trying to build.”

For their bookkeeping, the co-founders use Xero, which they’ve integrated with their Starling account. They both have the app and use it to pay suppliers, staff and track expenses. “You can access your account so quickly. I’ve never been more convinced by a product - Starling takes it all home.”

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