The healthy fast food restaurant has opened on St Peter's Square
FRISKA are on a mission. They want to ‘redefine expectations of how a typical breakfast and lunch makes you feel’. But this Bristol-based relative newcomer hasn’t got an easy task in such a packed lunch market, competing with the likes of Leon, Pret a Manger, Itsu, Eat, Chop’d and the ubiquitous meal deal. Even Greggs has upped its game recently, with an expanded menu and comprehensive refurbishment programme.
Owners Griff Holland and Ed Brown opened their first Friska in Bristol in October 2009. There are now seven branches all over Bristol, plus a concession at Luton airport. The name comes from the Swedish word for fresh or healthy - and is also a jubilant Hungarian folk dance. Their menu is wide ranging; Lebanese meatballs, chorizo gumbo, Burritos and pho noodles, but is representative of contemporary culinary expectations.
Manchester first got a taste of Friska when they opened a concession in The Bright Building at Manchester Science Park (MSP) where they have a dependable captive weekday audience. Now they feel established enough to venture further into the city centre, with a brand new shiny Friska launching next week on St Peters Square. They are hoping to catch the attention of Manchester’s professional workforce with fresh, healthy, on-the-go, hot food for a good price point.
Friska was named best ethical restaurant in the Observer Food Monthly Awards
Friska’s main seller is their hotbox (£5.50); a base of spicy rice, fresh homemade slaw, baked tortilla chips and baby leaf spinach topped with either Lebanese meatballs, Southern chicken and chorizo gumbo, or the vegetarian butternut and black bean dopiaza. Every day there’s a fresh soup.
They also serve breakfast boxes, poached egg pots, toasties, savoury muffins and a house bacon toastie they are particularly proud of – hoping to catch the hoards of people getting of St Peter’s Square’s busy Metrolink stop on the way to work.
It’s their holistic approach that sets it apart from the competition. In 2014, Friska was named best ethical restaurant in the Observer Food Monthly Awards, thanks to its ethical approach to food and coffee, its responsible way of doing business and their ambition to have a positive social impact. Their environmental approach includes sending zero waste to landfill, using renewable energy sources and donating to good causes as part of the Deki Partnership, empowering people in the developing world to work their way out of poverty.
Friska are keen to claim that it’s their staff that make a huge difference to their business and the way they are perceived by customers. It’s a lot more than, ‘there’s your coffee, off you go.’ Friska wants to be one of the best employers in the industry, with regular training sessions (often at head office in Bristol), trips to visit suppliers and incentive programmes, which result in a high level of staff retention.
Griff and Ed also handpick the suppliers they work with making sure that they share similar priorities such as ethical practice and sustainability. All of their eggs and poultry are free range, meat is high welfare and coffee is directly traded, rather than fair trade, as it cuts out the middle man, resulting in a better deal for the producer.
They use many local Bristol suppliers, which have a national supply network, such as Clifton Coffee roasters and Hobbs House Bakery. They haven’t ruled out looking into using local producers from the North West in future.
There will be a central kitchen based at the University supplying MSP and St Peter’s Square sites where all fresh produce will be prepared as well as any catering orders and events, so they haven’t ruled out the idea of opening more in the region.