Motivate yourself with the #CatererMotivator! Who's inspiring us this week? Not Dogs!
Not Dogs

#CatererMotivator: Who's behind Not Dogs?

Not Dogs duo Katie & Jane were already in business with one another when they became inspired to set up a mobile catering business which appealed to both vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Unable to shake the idea that they were on to something great, they set about creating Not Dogs and were trading at their first event within just three months. Within their first year, Not Dogs were finalists in the Virgin Group's Foodpreneur competition for Tastiest Startup, and even met Mr. Branson himself - all whilst dressed up as hot dogs. Lovely. After two years of serious graft, the team has gone on to feature on BBC's Dragon's Den and open up a Not Dogs restaurant in Birmingham's renowned Bullring; no small feat. We recently caught up with Katie and Jane to congratulate them on their unprecedented and well deserved success, and to find out what's in store for Not Dogs.

Hi Katie and Jane! As a vegetarian business, what would you say to sceptics who claim that non-meat based, substitute products can ever match up to the 'real thing?'

What we care about is providing delicious, addictive food that also happens to be meat-free. Our menu consists of Not Dogs, burgers and nuggets all of which are as tasty as the 'real thing' but are kinder to the environment and to animals. A third of our customers are meat eaters, which is probably due to the deliciousness of the Not Dog 'Original Frank' with Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, American cheese sauce and house made beer-friend onions.

Wow, that sounds incredible! We're so thrilled to have the first ever Not Dogs restaurant on NCASS' doorstep. Tell us all about it!

We're now open and are based on Link St. within the Bullring. We've had so many fantastic customers come in and return, sometimes after just 10 minutes to try something else, so we're very pleased to be building up our Brummie Not Dog fans. We were extremely busy over the Christmas period and are now really finding our feet having been open for a month. Our recent appearance on Dragon's Den also means that we're now welcoming lots more people in to the restaurant!

How did you go about getting your very own, Not Dogs exclusive, Quorn bratwurst?

Quorn is a great company to work with. We approached them before we started and as a veggie and meat-reducer, we were big fans of the brand. After hearing our idea for Not Dogs, they offered us the Quorn bratwurst which is only sold in some countries throughout Europe and, after tasting, we loved it and were subsequently offered exclusive rights to it. We're so lucky to have a partnership with such a fantastic company.

How has NCASS membership helped with Not Dogs?

NCASS has been invaluable to us whilst we've been on the road and at our new restaurant. The team are just fantastic and we know we can pick up the phone to them at any point to seek advice (and we've needed to a few times!) It's the peace of mind that NCASS provides in terms of health and safety and training - we always know we're covered and we're proud to that that we're part of NCASS.

What would be your advice to someone looking to ditch their current career in favour of setting up their own mobile catering company?

If you're prepared for the hardest work of your life then go for it! An interesting customer actually said to us the other day 'measure twice, cut one.' In other words, do your research, find a niche, understand what you'll need to do in terms of branding, marketing and finance and if it's something that you cannot live without doing, then you must do it!

Sound advice (: Do you have hopes for a Not Dogs franchise at any point in the future?

We would absolutely love to at some point in the future. We're going to work on getting our first few restaurants right first and then start to look for other passionate people to join us on the Not Dogs journey...changing the world, one Not Dog at a time!
What tips can you take away for your business?

- Don't ignore social media! We've built up a 'tribe' of social media followers all over the world and there's nothing we love more than talking to them online and seeing them enjoying their Not Dogs!

- The long hours are the hardest thing about the job, but the minute a customer yells with joy at the sight of our truck, it makes it all worth while.
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