First 'exclusively vegan' restaurant opens in Bishop's Stortford
Bishop's Stortford's first "exclusively vegan" restaurant and takeaway has opened its doors at Eat 17.
Matt Prior has brought his Veg Heads brand to the Potter Street food market – bringing the 32-year-old full circle.
He began his vegan food business at the town's Thursday market and, after establishing his first permanent base in Hertford and developing an outside catering arm, he has returned.
"This is our second permanent branch in Hertfordshire," he said. "Bringing the fun and colour to fully plant-based eating, the first-ever exclusively vegan place in Bishop's Stortford!"
A former lifeguard at Grange Paddocks Leisure Centre, Matt's academic background is a degree in sport science at Bedfordshire University, graduating in 2010.
He worked in hospitality and as a personal trainer before moving to the Far East to work in Thailand at a gemstone-buying business.
"After this ended, I worked in travel back in England and Mexico," he said. "I went vegan at the end of 2017 and always wanted to start my own food business based on my innovative ideas.
"When Veg Heads first started I could be found cooking burgers on the Stortford market every Thursday. Now, here we are, with two permanent branches and an events arm of the business too."
Matt describes his menu as "the best vegan junk food Herts and Essex have to offer". Dishes include Frigg'n Chikk'n – crispy fried seitan chikk'n fillet with BBQ sauce, vegan mayonnaise, Dirty Cheeze sauce, Bak'n bits, lettuce and pickles in a toasted brioche bun.
Fries include the Mighty Marmitey – oregano-salted, skin-on chips coated and tossed with Marmitey butter sauce, topped with Marmitey dust and spring onions.
As well as a kids menu, Matt and his team serve sides like Revival Bean Salad – a pot of wholesome bean and avocado salad, with a mango and lime dressing, diced onions, cherry tomatoes and coriander, topped with fried plantains.
He said: "I wanted to inspire people to try vegan, save as many animals as I can through my food and incite social change in the local area."
Now living with girlfriend Cristi, an online marketing guru, in Hertford, he is ready to further expand his empire, which currently employs 13 staff.
He said: "In five years I'd like the business to be nationwide, maintaining colour and innovation, outside of the cities and accessible to places with low-to-no vegan options."