Owner of plant-based kitchen 13th Element, Liam Russell, speaks to Tia Sanders about the highs and lows of starting his business just before lockdown, and how his burgers are coming back with a bang.
Opening his business in January 2020, Liam had no idea what was about to come, and what a blow to the hospitality industry lockdown would be. Fortunately, in the few weeks he was operating in the Street Food Club, located in the Victoria Centre, 13th Element had managed to build up a dedicated following, amassing nearly 5,000 followers on Instagram.
“When the first lockdown happened, Street Food Club and myself came together to see how we could still operate,“ Liam said. “One of my friends from Clean Cut Kitchen offered us the use of their kitchen, and we started a click and collect service from there for our customers, then worked up to our own delivery service.”
The past year hasn’t been easy for 13th Element, with the city falling in and out of tiers and lockdowns, but Liam fought through the struggles and worked alongside other businesses, like King’s Walk Kitchen, to continue delivery trading.
“We managed to continue to deliver, as well as do a few events and pop-ups, in places like Sneinton Market, with our food trailer. It’s been so amazing, the reception we get, wherever we’ve been, however we’ve been operating, has been incredible.”
13th Element gave back to their loyal customers by offering children under 16 a free burger back in October, when government provisions for families receiving free school meals were withdrawn. Now, foodies across Nottingham want them even more.
“There’s been loads of interest on our social media, with people constantly commenting and messaging when we’ll be back for delivery. Some of our customers were worried we wouldn’t be reopening because we’ve been quiet online. I don’t use it as much as I should; because of lockdown, it’s now the only way we’ve got to connect with each other.”
Over the last few weeks, Liam has been working to secure a more permanent location for a delivery hub, and he has just found that at the Golden Fleece on Mansfield Road.
“It’s not somewhere you can just walk up to and order from, it’s more of a dark kitchen. Were going to be using the Golden Fleeces kitchen as our base where everything will be made and distributed from.”
13th Element will be on UberEats from Wednesday 27th January and Deliveroo from this weekend, and will be bringing back old favourites, such as the Carri-Beyond burger and the BJ burger (which obviously stands for bac’con jam), as well as some exciting new items.
“Moving forwards, we’ll do what we’ve always done, which is offer great tasting food that just so happens to be vegan. Everything I’ve done on the menu comes from what I personally like, and each time we’ve brought out something new, it does really well.”