A convenient change for retail

A convenient change for retail

East London is home to many intriguing foodie start-ups, but for brothers James Brundle and Chris O’Connor, their Eat 17 concept is revolutionising convenience retailing in the 21st Century.

Eat 17 is an independently owned small group of eateries and convenience stores, currently based in east London, but with an eye on taking their food and retail concepts to a wider audience.

The business model has already seen the duo work with local food and drink suppliers as well as florists to put their own twist on traditional SPAR convenience stores and they have bold aspirations for the company going forward.

The original Walthamstow Eat 17 SPAR store has been at the centre of a revival of the area since opening its doors in 2008, and the introduction of its in-store restaurant in particular has received praise and plaudits from a number of leading food critics.

In the two years since extending the Eat 17 concept to Hackney, which boasts its own in-store burger bar, and soon-to-open boutique cinema space, James and Chris continue to explore their ambitious vision for the Eat 17 brand.

“The creative freedom that SPAR gives us means that we have been able to develop the total ‘Food Concept’ we envisaged at the outset,” says James. “It has always been our intention for Eat 17 to be more than just a place to pick up essentials. We know that our customers are interested and engaged in what they eat, and we work with local suppliers to offer fresh and exciting produce that appeals to customers’ curiosity.”

Making them stand out from standard conveience stores, Eat 17's outlets also operate an in-store bakery and a refillable wine station from Borough Wines. Florist Rebel Rebel is located at the entrance to the Hackney branch, and local company Fraise Sauvage supplies desserts for the restaurants.

Chris, who oversees the restaurant and 'Food To Go' side of the business, as well as donning his chef’s whites at the restaurants, added: “The Food To Go area in our Walthamstow store is now dedicated to Flatz - flat breads with creative seasonal ingredients.

“We wanted to do something new in a market place that is dominated by pizzas, and the feedback has been amazing… our customers love that they can buy a fast, tasty take-away, but with all the fresh, seasonal ingredients that are at the heart of what Eat 17 stands for.”

In addition to the two Eat 17 branches, James and Chris are also the brains behind Bacon Jam, which is available in national supermarkets and to the catering trade, and have recently launched a selection of chilled ready meals based on popular dishes served in the restaurant.

“We constantly have ideas about how we can expand the Eat 17 brand - being a small team we have the flexibility to ride the wave of demand and work with exciting suppliers. 

“We are extremely focused and work hard to give our customers an inspirational experience whether they pop in for milk or pomegranate molasses – every day we get a buzz from our business, and life doesn’t get better than that.”

Continuing to grow from strength to strength, EAT 17 offers a wide variety of new and exciting, multi award winning produce, sourced responsibly, seasonally and locally wherever possible. 

Now with their famous Bacon Jam and Ready Meals available to other retailers, EAT 17 plan to take their shopping and eating experience to a wider audience.