One evening in 2014, Peter Georgiou had a table booked at Nobu when the friend he was supposed to be dining with cancelled because he had to stay home with his kids. Georgiou, who was working as a fixed income trader at the time, joined his friend at his Chelsea home instead – “but we still wanted Nobu and thought we’d get it delivered,” he remembers. The restaurant, however, said it didn’t offer takeaway food. At that stage, you or I might have given up and ordered Domino’s.
Georgiou did not. He really, really wanted black cod. “So we managed to get Nobu for takeaway via a lot of haggling and using a cab to bring it to us. But the food arrived in a bad state – sploshed around on the cab journey, and cold. I thought, ‘This could be done better — there must be a lot more people like us who want great food delivered from amazing restaurants’.”
Fast forward eight years, and Georgiou, who is 50 and lives in Shoreditch, is the founder of Supper London, where 150 drivers in 100 branded, canopied scooters deliver meals from 200 of the capital’s best restaurants – including Nobu (of course), Jean-Georges at The Connaught, and Sushi Samba. Turnover hit £10.5 million last year.
The business started as a side dish: Georgiou initially kept his day job as a trader, while a “very well connected” friend managed to get him meetings “at a few key restaurants. They all said it was a great idea, but were very nervous about doing delivery.”
To convince restaurateurs that their meals would arrive at customers’ doors as smoothly as a waiter would whisk a plate to a restaurant table, Georgiou decided to show them it could be done – using his own cash. “I purchased a few special bikes from Japan, with temperature-controlled boxes of cold, hot and ambient compartments, and started a website. I wanted to show these restaurants that I was going to do delivery the best way it could be done.”
One of the first eateries to sign up was Michelin-starred Indian, Tamarind. And the first delivery driver was… Georgiou. “I started the business with my own money, so I did orders every day for the first three months. We didn’t exactly launch with a bang. I didn’t really have a budget for marketing, I was trying to do everything myself and I didn’t know too much about social media and all that.”
Still, there were perks to nipping around the West End doing deliveries: “One day, I was headed towards the customer’s house, stopped outside a very imposing residence, collected all the food together and buzzed the door. I handed the food over, the gentleman thanked me and gave me a tip. As I walked away, I did a double take and realised it was Peter Gabriel! I’d just delivered a Michelin-starred meal to a rock god… I thought I had arrived. That one moment made the whole Supper London journey worth it.”
He doesn’t drive around London doing deliveries any more, but Georgiou does directly employ his 150 drivers unlike the gig economy offering of delivery firms like Deliveroo.
“In a restaurant you don’t get a guy off the street to serve food, and nor do we,” he says.
Customers include “dames, earls, CEOs — we deliver to Kensington a lot, and the addresses match royalty but whether it’s staff or the royals, I don’t know. I’d love a royal warrant, though!”
The entrepreneur often gets his own dinner from Supper London – his favourite is Japanese cuisine from Roka. Having launched the delivery business with his own money (“hundreds of thousands,” he says. “I put a bit too much money into a project I had no prior experience in”), Georgiou has since raised £4 million from backers, including a £2.4 million round led by private investor platform, Growthdeck, in October 2021.
“Our model is very profitable on a per order basis,” Georgiou claims. Lockdown was certainly good for business: orders increased by “about 1050% between 2019 and 2020,” he says. “I had people who hadn’t answered my calls then being quite aggressive about getting the restaurant on the platform, suddenly people were chasing me.”
The average diner spends £110 on a meal; Supper London takes a commission from the restaurant, and charges customers a delivery fee of around £6.50. Georgiou says the firm has some regulars including one customer who has ordered the same lunch and dinner from Mayfair Italian C London five days a week for weeks.
In the coming months, Supper London wants to expand around the capital – it’s working on plans for “localised kitchens” run by prestigious restaurant brands in the suburbs – but Georgiou doesn’t plan to take on Deliveroo et al. “I never set out to be the biggest delivery company in the world – but I would definitely like to be known as the best.”
Source: Evening Standard