Welcome to The Wellness Edit - a Vegan Lifestyle & Wellness Journal by 360 Botanics.
Today we are in conversation with Max Aben, owner of The Roundhill - Brighton’s first inclusive 'Bravo Award-Winning' Vegan Pub & Restaurant.
Max, tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up opening a Plant-Based Pub?
I've been in the hospitality industry for 17 years, first as a young barman, then as manager of a drinking pub in Lewes for 7 years. It was here that I met my partner Rosi and our dream of ‘The Roundhill’ began. Rosi had the artistic passion and vision and I had the background to implement it.
So, we searched for possible sites in Brighton and landed on a run down pub called ‘The Jolly Poacher’. We had one month to do a complete refurb, create a buzz and most importantly build a team!
Being locals and also in the industry, we had lots of help from our friends and quickly built up a ‘dream team’. This was completed with the addition of our Executive Chef, Jake Swayne. He also had a dream of opening a Plant-Based-kitchen and with his talent and our vision - it was a perfect match!
Have you had to jump many hurdles or have the Brighton community been welcoming?
The Vegan community in Brighton is huge and supportive, and the locals have been extremely pleased to have a Community Pub back in the heart of their neighbourhood.
Why did you choose Lewes to open the second Roundhill?
With The Roundhill Brighton established, and in the safe hands of Head Chef Adam Eynon, it seemed like the most natural step as most of the team are living in Lewes.
What have been your biggest challenges during the various lockdowns over the last year?
Opening and closing The Roundhill has been the hardest part. We hate waste, so to be told we have to close in a matter of days came with great sadness each time. But we have revelled in the challenges and adapted each time to suits the needs of our customers, whilst also making sure we are doing the correct and safe thing for our team.
This lockdown we have been closed for almost all of January as we felt it was the right thing to do. This decision didn’t come lightly as VEGANUARY is normally the busiest month for us. The movement sees a huge increase of people trying out Vegan food for the first time, and this is where we like to showcase what we do best! Obviously COVID has been a huge worry, but we are confident we will be in a strong place when we re-open.
Which dishes on your Menu are the most popular?
The firm favourite has to be our Panko Cauliflower Wings, there was even a petition to have them re-instated when we took them off the menu!
We change our menu a lot, sometimes every month, we get excited with new ways of cooking and want to share them straight away! There are so many dishes we love, from our home-made Seitan dishes, which are loved by meat eaters and Vegans alike, to our ever changing Buddha Bowl, for a healthier option. We have sharing boards from all over the world, and our classic RH -Burger has stayed on the menu the whole time.
Tell us about the Bravo Award you won last year?
We are honoured to receive this prestigious Award, because the competition in Brighton is so fierce. For a fully 'Plant-Based Roast' to have won this award, really says something about how far Veganism has come, and we can't be more proud to fly the flag for this!
Until we open again, you will be able to order a 'Finish at Home Roast' from us to collect every Sunday from January 31st.
Do you have any 'Trend Predictions' for the Vegan food industry for 2021/22?
Plant-based food is getting more accessible which is great to see. Goo-filled cookies seem to be the big hit this VEGANUARY and the Burger market is booming! We will be concentrating on the finer aspect of Vegan food and working with as many exciting vegetables as we can.
What are your future plans and how do you see yourself and your business evolving?
We really hope that things can get back to a social norm soon, we are already planning for exciting new menu ideas for Roundhill Brighton.
For Roundhill Lewes, we will re-open the café as soon as we can with loads more exciting treats and not long after we will launch our 'small plate' Restaurant in the evenings, where we will get to show-off some really refined plant-based food and drinks. It will be something really special, hopefully a place where people will look forward to treating themselves!
We like to end our interviews with 6 quick fire questions…
What makes you happy?
My Inspiring partner Rosi and my wonderful 3 kids!
Last book you read?
I'm not much of a reader, but hopefully we will have a 'Roundhill Cook Book' out in the future!
I like to keep it simple - Bangers and Mash.
What are you curious about right now?
All of our energy is directed at re-opening, i'm just curious as to when that will be!
Favourite way to relax?
With good company, food & drink.
Favourite Sussex spot?
If COVID has been in anyway positive, it has opened our eyes to the wonder that we live in. The Sussex Downs are the most beautiful surroundings that anyone could find themselves in, and we have so much more to still explore.
You can contact The Roundhill team here: THE ROUNDHILL
& follow them on Insta here: @theroundhillpub
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