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Vincent Vegan : From food truck to shopping center

Instead of tie and collar, the founder of the successful food concept Vincent Vegan wears colorful sneakers, belt bag and retro glasses. The trained banker quit his job as a management consultant overnight and set out to find his own thing. In 2013 the business plan is ready and in 2014 the first food truck rolls onto Hamburg's streets. Today we are sitting in the break room of the Food Sky in the Europa Passage, where Vincent Vegan opened a fast food restaurant last fall. We talk about luck and headwind, Iowa and Berlin and why shopping centers can hardly survive without good food.

How did you get the idea to sell vegan burgers on the street?

I always knew that I wanted to do my own thing. In my job as an IT consultant I was at a point where something had to change. The classic: I was given more and more responsibility and more money, and the pressure became noticeably greater. I was no longer happy and at some point I was also in poor health. I wanted to do something where my heart was set on it. So I quit my job and took some time out. I love animals and lived vegetarian at that time. I knew the idea with the trucks from the USA. The hype hadn't reached us yet. I liked the rough streetfood style, the directness of it. You're right next to the guests and don't have to open a door and take a seat first, like in a restaurant. That was the idea behind the first food truck.

What do you do differently?

I think what people like is that we are authentic. If I am open and honest, I don't make myself vulnerable. For me, the marketing of the future is transparency. Besides, cool guys work with us. Topi, as the second important man behind Vincent Vegan is called, was standing in front of the truck with his racing bike at the time and had just hung up the night catering. He started out as an employee and we quickly became great friends. Today we are business partners. What makes us special is our international charm. All employees in the store speak English and they themselves or one of their parents is mostly from abroad. I am the German exception. The other day a group of 8 seventeen-year-old teenagers from Iowa came to our office looking for the restaurant. The vegan scene is still quite small in this country. Before their visit, guests look specifically to see where they can find us. For some, we are something like the meatless 'Burger Kings'.

How did the opening of the restaurant in the Food Sky of the Europa Passage come about?

We had arrived at a turning point and did not know exactly where the journey with the trucks would take us. Expanding yes, but differently. A food truck like this is highly complex and even though we had good sales, it was often close to being finished. Through a stand at the Streetfood weekend, we made contact with the Passage. Later, the opportunity arose to move into a free area. It was not easy. The banks are extremely skeptical about gastronomy and even more so about vegans - they are not willing to go along with this. We finally reached an agreement with the center management, who wanted us on board. Since day one, things have been going great here. Between 250 and 300 portions are served daily - which is really good for a small store.

What draws you from the street to the shopping centers?

A lot changes on the food courts of the centers. Department stores, train stations and airports are places where new concepts in gastronomy are urgently needed. They attract customers to spend more time in these places. You can chill out in comfortable armchairs, charge your cell phone, have Wi-Fi and enjoy good food at short distances. The role of food in shopping centers has become even more important due to digitalization. Stationary retail can only survive if potential buyers are motivated by such benefits to continue shopping in analog form. We have now disposed of one truck in order to focus more on the real estate business. We believe that a growth boost is possible here. We have just opened a second store here in Hamburg in the Mercado, and we will soon be moving on to Berlin-Friedrichshain. There Vincent Vegan will move into the East Side Mall, which is still under construction.
How do you stay on the carpet with all this success?

I do yoga five or six times a week. Or I meditate. With a little daughter on top, there's always something going on everywhere. But for me there is no reason not to stay on the ground. I haven't changed much with my success. Sure, professionally and personally I have developed further. I remain a humble person and automatically on the carpet.

What would you like to give to other young entrepreneurs in a similar situation?

Many people find it difficult to find the courage to implement their ideas. In a system like ours, more cool concepts and visions should come to life. I would like to take away some people's inhibitions and motivate them to realize something of their own. Vincent Vegan also had a strong headwind in the beginning. Even my family almost declared me crazy. You need a tremendous amount of stamina and without the support of friends and family, nothing would be the way it is today. In the end, it's all about me being happy and being fully behind what I do. I gladly accept the everyday Struggle for this horny feeling.

ECE Editorial Team

Our editorial team reports on interesting facts in and out of ECE and provides up-to-date information about our real estate projects via corporate channels. In addition, we deal intensively with trends and developments in the areas of Marketplaces and Work & Live. In our blog, we give our experts a voice and provide interesting insights into topics that move us.


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