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Behind the Review host and Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily Washcovick, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.
Being vegan, while decidedly easier in recent years, is still a very difficult lifestyle to follow when dining out. In the heart of beef country – Dripping Springs, Texas – things can get even harder. Add to that a potentially fatal nut allergy, and Yelp reviewer Kate S. had almost 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 handle her allergy.
“I was so excited to first know that their employees were well informed and given the tools they needed to deal with nut allergies,” Kate said. “And I’ve worked in the restaurant industry, I’ve seen people not really take it seriously. And I’m an anaphylactic patient. I was excited to find a place where I could get a dairy-free option that wouldn’t kill me.” Also have a list of things I want to try on their menu that I wouldn’t normally eat.”
The co-owners of Skull & Cakebones, Sascha Biesi and Yauss Berenji, pay close attention to nutritional needs and ingredients. Their now 20-year-old daughter developed severe allergies early in life, prompting Sascha to experiment and develop allergen-friendly recipes that taste great. She believes that food should be a delicious experience, even if the ingredients are limited. And her staff needs to be armed with information about those ingredients for clients like Kate.
“At Skull & Cakebones we see a lot of people with different allergies. It’s very important for that person looking forward [what we are feeding you] because the customer expects it… our mission is that [if] we will not give it to our children, we will not give it to you. We really need to know what we’re giving you, and that includes our staff,” said Sasha.
In addition to integrating themselves into their business with their vegan lifestyle, it was important for both Sascha and Yauss to provide a safe and accessible space for customers. Kate picked up on that safe harbor vibe right away, even if the coverage is subtle.
“It feels like going to a friend’s house. When you walk in, you have that sense of relief of” [it] be a safe space—[it feels that way] even just over the internet. So it really made me feel like I wanted to support them, and also that I had a safe place,” she said.
For both Sascha and Yauss, mental health and LGBTQIA+ issues are very personal, and they are committed to sharing those experiences with their clients like Kate.
“It is very important to me to raise awareness about mental health issues as someone who has suffered from mental health issues for a lifetime. I believe that by telling my story, it paves the way for other people to tell their story. tell me,” said Sascha.
One of her ways of sharing her 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 part of the change in mental health stigma. I want Skull & Cakebones to be a platform where people are surprised by the fact that they have a bakery and talk about how they feel.”
Yauss agreed. “It’s important for people to know because there’s so much shame associated with mental health issues. And I think by doing the Depressed Cake Shop and raising awareness for mental health, we’ve really created that safe space where people just show up for a little lunch, and before you know it, you’ve had a 30 minute chat with them, and everyone is feeling better. We want to be that space, and I think we created that space by just being honest about who we are .”
Check out these other tips from Skull & Cakebones:
- Knowledge is power for your entire team. In the case of Skull & Cakebones, which is both a vegan and allergy-friendly establishment, the entire staff must know exactly what is in each product and be educated about allergies and veganism.
- Negative reviews may not be what they seem. A seemingly negative review was actually positive for Skull & Cakebones, so make sure you take them beyond just face value.
- Working together in life and work is difficult. Be aware of your and your partner’s strengths and weaknesses before doing business together.
- Your company’s brand and your personal issues can become intertwined, if done correctly. Yauss and Sascha use charities close to their hearts to build their brand and benefit their communities.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Sara and Swati, and subscribe Behind the review for more information from new entrepreneurs and reviewers every Thursday.
Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, stitcherand Soundcloud