Expats open pop up vegetarian restaurant in Haute-Vienne France

Written by on October 24, 2017 in Expats in France

Expats who have opened a pop up restaurant in the kitchen of their home

We chat to expats Louise Elsom and Dave Pegram who are finding success with a pop-up vegetarian and vegan restaurant in their home in Haute-Vienne and find out their top tips for creating a catering business in France…

How did you come to be in France?

I’m originally from East Yorkshire, England, UK. My family had holidayed in Southern France throughout my childhood and my late dad had always dreamed of retiring here. Sadly he never got to live out that wish, but my Mum and I (after a lot of dithering), decided to go for it and move to France. We moved to Carcassonne and I had six happy years there. I met my Fiancée Dave two years ago and we’ve just bought our first home in the lovely Haute-Vienne region. My mum has moved to this area too.

I bought a lovely, but unloved, two bedroomed house with a barn, a little stable and a bit of land – I just fell in love with it. Dave wasn’t quite so impressed when he saw it but I convinced him of the potential. It had been left abandoned for 15 years but Dave is a builder so we’ve done all the renovation work ourselves. It’s in a great area just outside the village of Saint Laurent sur Gorre. It’s very peaceful with lots of lovely lakes and great for walking our two dogs. But if we want a bit of city life, Limoges is just 30 minutes away. I can spend hours walking around the cobbled streets, visiting the churches and dragging poor Dave into the many shops. Other highlights in the area include Saint Junien, Rochechouart, Chalus, Segur le Chateau. The list is endless…

What was it that inspired you to create a pop up restaurant?

dining room of the pop up cafe called the hidden veggie bistro

Dave is a vegetarian so I had to learn to cook to suit him and to my surprise, I found that I loved it and I was really good at it. So much so, that I started a vegetarian recipes blog and, from there, decided to start a little vegetarian and vegan restaurant. And The Hidden Veggie Kitchen was born.

The Hidden Veggie Kitchen is in our home and people can come and eat homemade vegetarian and vegan food and meet new people. It’s very sociable, people sit together at our two long tables and they love it. We’ve had so many interesting people visit, from as far as Holland and America. Many of our customers aren’t vegetarian, they just want to eat a bit less meat on a weekly basis and enjoy simple, home cooked meals.

Vegetarian dishes served at the hidden veggie bistro pop up restaurant Haute Vienne France

How has it been to start a business in France?

It’s rather overwhelming to set up a business in a foreign country so I got professional help with the Administration as I didn’t want to make any mistakes! It is definitely reassuring to have someone that you can go to with any questions as, even with reasonable French; it is still easy to make mistakes!

What top tips would you give to anyone wanting to set up a catering business in France?

Well I would definitely say that you should do your research. I asked around and made sure that I would have enough potential customers in the area to make my business worthwhile. Customers travel from far and wide now so they obviously feel it’s worthwhile for good food!

I’ve found it easier to set up a business in my own home rather than on dedicated business premises. I’ve started small and grown gradually, rather than jumping in, renting a building, then finding I can’t cover my monthly expenses. We’re still growing and we have the potential to extend the dining space into the barn.

Read the full interview in our free ezine The Good Life France Magazine

The Hidden Veggie Kitchen Website

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