A top chef is planning to expand his company’s footprint nationwide after the successful introduction of its fine-dining home delivery service.
Dean Banks, who runs Haar in St Andrews, has been offering his Haar at Home service for around seven weeks.
The chef, who reached the finals of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2018, said that reaction to the lobster and crab boxes has been “unbelievable” and logistically it is getting “too big for a chef to handle”.
“We started Haar at Home about six or seven weeks ago, basically to keep me going and keep me sane,” said Dean, from Carnoustie.
“We decided to do this roast dinner box that kind of kick-started it, but roast dinners is not really me – it’s not my brand and it’s not what I do as a chef.
Thats Haars 5th member of staff back full time. Haar at home is now providing boxes to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews, Carnoustie, Cupar, Arbroath and lots inbetween also. Next step is national! Stay tuned!!
Thank you to everyone who has ordered a box! I love you!
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) May 30, 2020
“From that, it evolved into something that I love doing and that’s my lobster box. The lobster itself is my signature dish that we do in the restaurant.
“A good friend of mine, Ross McGregor, helped with our online presence. Within a week of him coming on board, the sales for Haar went from 50 boxes to 250 boxes. Without him I don’t think we’d be where we are.
“We started delivering locally and were doing around 50/60 boxes a week and we were getting lots of comments from people in Edinburgh and Glasgow saying they’d love to be able to get a delivery there.
“We said, if we can get a minimum number of orders in Edinburgh we’ll go ahead and deliver more widely, and within the first week we had 50 orders.
“It’s been amazing since then. It has grown arms and legs and we’re up to 300 boxes this week.
“The minefield of national is that we’re at the point now where we’re growing beyond the capacity of my restaurant.
“We’re looking at other avenues and at the possibility of renting a unit somewhere to be used, growing the staff, or bringing all the staff back from furlough.
“We’ve kind of plateaued at where we are with the 300 boxes a week but now we’re looking to expand it because there’s a lot of people asking for it nationally. The response has been unbelievable.”
Dean says that he had to rapidly adapt and innovate during lockdown, but believes it has helped him evolve as a chef.
He said: “I’m massively surprised at how we’ve adapted. I think I’ve evolved and grown as a chef and as a business owner.
“I’m usually worried about the food leaving the pass and getting to the table, whereas now I’m worried about the food leaving the front door and getting to someone’s home.
“The nightmare of logistics surrounding delivery is just something I never expected to run into.
“I hold my hands up in praise to any delivery driver; the job they do is amazing and the stress behind it is unbelievable.
“I definitely want to continue this in the future. We’ve already built in plans to segregate it from Haar restaurant so that it’s its own entity. We want to have a unit up and running so that when Haar does open we can keep it going.
“Even with the restrictions being softened, I think there’s still a massive need for this sort of thing at home.
“My repertoire of being a chef, having a restaurant and knowing where my produce comes from is now becoming this great thing that I can use for Haar at Home.
“This week we’ve got six boats fishing for lobsters just for us; one in St Andrews, two in Arbroath and three in the Outer Hebrides.
“It’s nice that we can help support our local fishing fleet because the market has obviously dropped off.”
Dean says that at the beginning of the pandemic he felt “down in the dumps,” unsure about what to do with himself.
But after successfully creating home cocktail videos for his gin brand, Lunun, he felt a renewed sense of purpose to remain focused and keep going.
He said: “I started doing home videos for my gin brand, Lunun, of me making cocktails. That boomed and sales on our website went up 10,000%.
“That was the incentive of me realising I needed to keep everything going and that I couldn’t just stall.
“I want to survive by myself so I needed to think about how I can create something that would keep me going.
“Providing for everyone locally is a great thing, but logistically it’s getting too big for me to be able to handle.
“I think, in the future, we might have some complaints that if we go national we might be shunning off the local people.
“That’s not the case. They can still collect from the restaurant and order off the website. But the logistics are getting too big for a chef to handle.”
Haar at Home is currently providing boxes to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, St Andrews, Carnoustie, Cupar, Arbroath and places in between. Anyone wishing to order can do so by clicking this link.