LUSSMANNS: Mastering Covid Sustainably

How Lussmanns maintained their sustainability goals in the face of adversity

Andrei Lussmann, the man behind the successful group of Fish and Grill Restaurants, Lussmanns, is passionate about sustainably sourced food. Founded on the principle that ethically sourced and locally farmed produce should be available to everyone. The six restaurants are known for their fantastic service, ambience and fabulous food.

As a multi-award winning restaurant specialising in providing restaurant-quality dining experiences, Lussmanns had never considered packaged meals or ‘take away’ for that matter…until COVID.

We have been speaking to Lussmanns to learn more about their COVID strategy, and why they chose BioPak to support their food and packaging needs.

3 man holding glass of drinks at Lussmanns' restaurant3 man holding glass of drinks at Lussmanns' restaurant

Who is behind Lussmanns, and what’s your journey been thus far?

Lussmanns was first founded in 2002 in London, and has since branched out to Hertfordshire, with their sixth restaurant opening in Oxford just two weeks before the UK went into lockdown, certainly not how Andrei and his team, headed up by Head Chef, Mick McGeown and Head of Operations, Matt Mager, envisaged their latest project starting.

“Staying true to our ethical and sustainable values, has been a challenge”

- Andrei Lussmann

Maintaining a competitive edge in an incredibly saturated market, without compromising on their ethical and sustainable values in itself has been a challenge, let alone with a world-wide pandemic thrown into the mix.

What sustainability initiatives do you have in your business and how easy or difficult are they to meet?

We (Lussmanns) have always believed in ethical business, whether that’s through our Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation and our sustainably sourced fish and meats or our commitment to recycling 100% of our waste. We want to ensure we are honest and transparent when it comes to the origin and disposal of all our resources.

Just over two years ago we stopped importing champagne from France and started moving across to local British vineyards in order to both reduce our impact on transport emissions, and to support our producers by sourcing UK sparkling wine. These steps aren’t always easy, especially not when you also have to maintain your competitive edge on the highstreet.

Lussmanns are also proud to be a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which aims to accelerate change toward an environmentally restorative and socially progressive hospitality sector in the UK. The SRA supports more than 10,000 restaurants through its Food Made Good programme, which includes an annual sustainability rating, and supports our vision that you can run a sustainable business and still be commercially viable.

Where does BioPak fit into your business offering? How did you hear about us and what motivated you to switch to home compostable, rapidly-renewable sugarcane packaging?

employees of Lussmanns in the restaurantemployees of Lussmanns in the restaurant

Our business plan works towards a circular economy, with a 100% recycling standard, reusing oil and ensuring food waste is minimised. It, therefore, didn’t make sense that we used packaging that would end up in landfill - it had to align with our sustainable values.

“I wanted to work with composting, I have 3-4 compost bins in my own garden!”

- Andrei Lussmann

Once I was introduced to BioPak, it became immediately clear that our values were represented within the packaging solutions available to us, from renewably sourced, to certified compostable. We ordered samples and made the decision in 15 seconds, and that was the end of it really.

Are you new to take away as part of navigating through Covid19?

Absolutely, we had never done food-to-go and we certainly didn’t expect to, having only just opened our sixth restaurant two weeks prior to lockdown. We did, however, see the writing on the wall, much as the rest of the industry, so we started doing takeaway 3-4 days before the lockdown was officially announced, and in 30 hours we went from having six restaurants open and serving on white china, to closed and operating takeaway and delivery only.

We made many, many mistakes in the first few weeks, but we were agile and quick to adapt. Personally, I had to deliver 70 orders a day over a weekend, and I’d never delivered anything. But we committed to learning and learning quickly.

How important is sustainable packaging to your business?

It’s been busy, we’ve sold over 33,000 units of food and drink during lockdown - and it’s not been without its challenges, but for us, ethics was never one of them, thanks to BioPak packaging. COVID has been an interesting and difficult transition, but I (Andrei Lussmann) am incredibly proud of what we as a team have achieved.

“BioPak packaging has filled the missing link. It was really important that we didn’t become environmentally dismissive in the face of adversity”

- Andrei Lussmann

It’s great that our customers have the full cycle, whether that’s organic produce, service from staff that are ethically treated, or takeaway served in packaging that is sustainably sourced and has a circular economy solution, in that it can be composted.

Lussmanns chefs in the kitchenLussmanns chefs in the kitchen

What challenges and opportunities in your business currently facing and has sustainable packaging contributed to any of these in a positive way?

The financial opportunity in rapidly transitioning to food-to-go has allowed us to continue to keep going through COVID - and we are likely to continue with takeaway service as we go back to our new normal.

As we leaned into COVID, we wanted our customers to have the opportunity to eat a whole raft of interesting foods, ready-made meals, takeaway, fruit and vegetable boxes - more importantly, we wanted it to be accessible! During this difficult time, our aim was to give people something to enjoy regularly, classy but classless - an everyday luxury.

Of course, our main concern was the wellbeing of our team and our customers. By providing a safe environment for our employees and accessible experience for patrons, we were able to remain open, a valued part of our customer.

What feedback would you give to fellow businesses in the foodservice industry during these uncertain times?

Constantly reflect and review your offering, be mindful of your numbers and know your debt, not all ideas work - but they are worth trying!

Keeping the lights on and the door ajar, however small, is really important - it keeps the mind open and the opportunity there. Trading in some form, despite the challenges, will help you and your team stay motivated and ensure you all have a common goal to work towards. Mental fatigue and mental health are hugely important, and shouldn’t be overlooked during these times.

We would love to thank Andrei Lussmann for talking to us so honestly and we can’t wait to see where Lussmanns and his team take their post-lockdown journey!

Looking to switch from conventional plastic? Take a look out our range of compostable BioCane takeaway containers.