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Behind the Review host and Yelp small business expert Emily Washcovick shares a look at this week’s podcast episode.
Being vegan, while decidedly easier in recent years, is still a very difficult lifestyle to follow when eating out. Being in the heart of beef country, Dripping Springs, Texas, could make it even more difficult. Add in a life-threatening nut allergy, and Yelp reviewer Kate S. had all but given up eating out.
Then she found Skull & Cakebones, a bakery and market not far from her home. Not only did the food taste great, but the ingredient lists were very clear and the staff knew how to manage her allergy.
“I was so excited to hear firsthand that their employees were knowledgeable and had the tools they needed to deal with nut allergies,” Kate said. “And I’ve worked in the restaurant industry. I’ve seen people not take it seriously. And I’m anaphylactic. I was excited to find a place where I could get a dairy-free option that wouldn’t kill me. . I also have a list of things I want to try on their menu that I wouldn’t normally eat.”
Skull & Cakebones co-owners Sascha Biesi and Yauss Berenji pay close attention to dietary needs and ingredients. Her daughter, now 20, developed severe allergies early in life, which led Sascha to experiment and develop allergen-friendly recipes that taste great. She strongly believes that food should be a delicious experience, even if the ingredients are limited. And your staff should be armed with information about these ingredients for customers like Kate.
“At Skull & Cakebones, we see a lot of people who have different allergies. It’s really important that the front-end person knows that. [what we are feeding you] because the customer expects that… our mission is this [if] we will not feed it to our children, we will not feed it to you. We have to really know what we’re feeding you, and that goes for our staff as well,” said Sasha.
Beyond incorporating their vegan lifestyle into their business, it was important to both Sascha and Yauss to provide a safe and accessible space for customers. Kate immediately picked up on that safe haven vibe, though the message is subtle.
“It’s like going to a friend’s house. When you walk in, you get this sense of relief [it] being a safe space—[it feels that way] even just over the internet. So it really made me feel first, like I wanted to support them, and also like I had a safe space,” she said.
For both Sascha and Yauss, mental health and LGBTQIA+ issues are very personal and they are dedicated to sharing these experiences with their clients like Kate.
“For me, it’s really important to raise awareness about mental health issues, as someone who has suffered from mental health issues all my life I worry about it myself. I think that by telling my story, it’s paving the way for others to people tell their stories,” shared Sascha.
One of the ways he shared his experience was through a “Depressed Cake Shop” pop-up experience. All the baked goods were gray on the outside, with a rainbow of color on the inside.
“The struggle is real, and the stigma is real, and I want to be a part of changing the stigma of mental health. I want Skull & Cakebones to be a platform where people are amazed that they can walk into a bakery and talk about how they feel.”
Yauss agreed. “It’s important for people to know because there’s a lot of shame around mental health issues. And I think by doing the Depressed Cake Shop and raising awareness about mental health, we really created this safe space where people just show up. lunch , and before you know it, you’ve had a 30-minute conversation with them, and everyone feels better. We want to be that space, and I think to be honest about who we are, we created that space. .”
Check out these other tips from Skull & Cakebones:
- Knowledge is power for your entire team. In the case of Skull & Cakebones, as a vegan and allergy-friendly establishment, all staff must know exactly what is in each product and be educated on allergies and veganism.
- Negative reviews may not be what they seem. A seemingly negative review was actually positive for Skull & Cakebones, so be sure to take them at face value.
- Associating life and work is difficult. Consider the strengths (and weaknesses) of you and your partner before going into business together.
- Your company brand and your personal issues can be intertwined, if done right. Yauss and Sascha use causes close to their hearts to build their brand and benefit their community.
Listen to the episode below to hear Sara and Swati live and subscribe Behind the Review for more information from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.
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