The Story of Bunnychow: Truck, bread and moving beyond curry
The latest endeavour by Shanti Hospitality, involves a truck, some bread and some big global flavours. If you put them all together, you get ‘Bunnychow’, a new and intriguing fast food concept, recently launched in the UK. The interesting creation is essentially a hollowed out loaf of bread stuffed with an array of different fillings including ‘Bangcluck Chicken’, which is flavoured with a Thai inspired spicy ginger sauce, succulent chicken and an Asian slaw, or ‘Pork n’ Pickle’ slow roasted pork and homemade pickles or the signature ‘Monkey Gland Meatball’ cooked in a South African, BBQ inspired monkey gland sauce. The Bunnychow received investment from Shanti Hospitality in 2013, and although it’s a new concept in the UK market, it actually originates from Durban, South Africa in the 1940s.
CEO of Bunnychow, Atholl Milton explains, “This is a South African concept which was created by the workers so that they could carry their daily curry to the sugar plantation fields, by using a loaf of bread, as the vessel for carrying the filling. It was a good source of protein as well as carbs and helped them get through the day. Bunny chow is now a legendary dish in Durban, South African and we loved the idea of using the loaf as a vessel for a range of exciting fillings, to keep the workers of London sustained throughout the day. In 2013, we developed the bunnychow food truck which roamed around London showing up at events or festivals. This really tested the product. Soon after, we found there was a huge interest in Bunnychow so we opened up our very own shop in Boxpark.”
Bunnychow’s first stationary appearance thus came in the heart of Shoreditch. Housed in adapted shipping containers, Boxpark offers a bunch of pop-up shops and global street food spots, the perfect spot to ensure Bunnychow is completely at home.
Speaking about the strategy to grow this new business, Milton said, “Since we launched, we have received great feedback from the customers and the press with the likes of Olive Magazine and Charles Campion hailing it as a key trend for 2014. We have finally secured a location in Soho that will become our year-round equivalent to Pret-a-Manger, where you can get hot food, as well as breakfast. The roll out strategy is then to set up 7-10 of these in the next few years. There will be a variety of food on offer from breakfast through to dinner and we’re looking to launch our own branded products, in-store such as our range of healthy, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. It’s also important that we continue to evolve and adapt the menu with the seasons and with an awareness of new trends and flavour profiles.
Asking Milton what compelled Shanti Hospitality to choose this particular type of cuisine, he said, “Well, nobody has really done it in a big way, over here. A lot of people are doing sandwiches, pizza, burgers but that is everywhere. Bunny chow is something which has a tradition to it and a history to it. You can also adapt this type of food to the local culture and change the flavours according to the season. Also the bread itself can be varied to appeal to different types of customers, for instance gluten-free.
As fast food goes, Bunnychow increasingly attracts many lovers and Shanti Hospitality hopes to fulfil the demand by expanding the company across central London. Milton said, “At the moment our concentration is on launching individual outlet concepts such as Wardour Street in Soho, and from there, we’ll assess the market and move forward, store-by-store.”
Bunnychow received investment from Shanti Hospitality, a part of C&C Alpha Group but has been conscious not to blow the budget on traditional advertising and marketing. Milton said the secret is, “we decided to take a more untraditional route in the sense of talking about the brand. So, for example, we’ve used social media to get people talking about Bunnychow, taking pictures of it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, that has all created a huge buzz, which has been really encouraging”.
If the Bunnychow tweets, ‘likes’ and Instagrams are anything to go by, this new food phenomenon is set to be deadly competition to all existing fast-food joints!