Everything kapai with healthy takeaways
WELLINGTON BUSINESS REPORTER
Wellington will soon have seven outlets of local healthy takeaway chain Kapai. It just opened its fourth shop, in Cuba St, and has been turning over $3 million a year in Kiwi-style gourmet salads, wraps and baked potatoes.
James Irvine started the business with school chum, Justin Lester and brother, Sam Irvine in 2006 in an effort to reinvent New Zealand fast food, starting out with a store at Lambton Square.
The made-fresh-to-order food is now a favourite with Wellington city workers, serving up more than 120 kilograms of chicken and nine crates of avocados in salads and Long John gourmet kebabs each week.
Kiwi culture is laced through the business, from its Maori name meaning "good" or "well done" to its stuffed flatbreads called "puku".
"We felt like New Zealand needed a healthy takeaway option with a New Zealand theme so people embrace not only the food but also the brand," Irvine said.
Irvine and his business partners are originally from Invercargill but have been calling the capital home since returning to New Zealand after their respective OEs in the mid-2000s.
The trio, now in their 30s, invested $80,000 of their own savings to get the Kapai business off the ground and are proud to have kept it debt-free with all growth self- funded. "Running a tight ship is important," Irvine said.
None had formal experience in the food industry before starting Kapai. It took about 18 months for it to go from a concept - which was runner-up in the 2007 Cable Car Challenge - to serving its first honey ginger beef and grilled capsicum salad.
As it has expanded, Kapai has been able to improve its bargaining power with suppliers.
Kapai is in the process of creating its own coffee blend and hopes to be looking at locations to open branches further afield within the next year.
"It would have been easy to franchise but we've just been building a platform here in Wellington with the idea of leveraging off that in the future," Irvine said.
"We think we can offer a better service operating it ourselves. With franchising there are middlemen as well, clipping the ticket right the way through, and often I see in franchises the quality of the product isn't as good."
Its salads keep health-conscious consumers happy - the $8.90 regular size lemon herb roasted chicken with crispy noodles, sundried tomatoes and thyme has only about 230 calories but more than 26 grams of protein.
"One thing we're really proud of is the fact we own all the stores and are heavily involved in the operation of the stores, still serving . . . we're reinventing takeaways in New Zealand."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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