Steven Pessoa's healthy food and drink café - Electric Grubb - is on the Tottenham High Road, just five minutes’ walk from Seven Sisters tube.
“It’s great for Tottenham and I like to think people will say, ‘Wow’ when they walk in,” he told us.
The café will be open from 10.30am to 9.30pm, Mondays to Thursdays; 10am to 11pm, Fridays; and 10am to 10pm on Saturdays. We met the Tottenham born and bred entrepreneur to find out how the Opportunity Investment Fund has benefitted him.
Why the name?
My nephew suggested, ‘Grub’ which I liked but then I wondered whether people might associate that with pub grub and think it’s not that healthy. And then a friend said, ‘Perhaps call it Electric Grub because food is electric nowadays and if you want to eat healthy and live longer you have to eat electric food!’ I’m all about eating healthily so I thought that was a good idea and then added another ‘b’ to the ‘Grub’ to make it stand out.
What is electric food?
It’s based on this idea that we have too much acid in our bodies so we need more alkaline to create a better balance. We will use a machine that purifies the water we use here to help ensure all our food and drink is the best we are putting into our bodies. These machines cost a bit of money but you can’t put a price on your health!
I love it here and have lived in Tottenham all my life. Tottenham has had some ups and downs over the past few decades but it does now feel as though it’s now changing for the better and I want to be a part of that change – we’re on the cusp of something really good. It’s a good place to open a business and I’ve noticed more shops and businesses are moving here, particularly to the High Road, a place which I take great pride in.
How did you hear about the Opportunity Investment Fund?
I have another business called Smoothies and Cream on the High Road and one day a lady walked by and gave me some information about the OIF fund. To be honest I was unsure whether or not I would be eligible for funding but I was encouraged by my business mentors at MLB (based just across the road at the 639 Enterprise Centre) and they helped me throughout, step by step.
What has the OIF money been used for?
It’s been used for equipment and the fit out of Electric Grubb – everything to get this place open really! We would never have been able to have done this without OIF funding and it’s made my dreams become a reality. It was something in my mind that has become something physical where I can go and sit down in and enjoy a meal. How good is that?
How have you found working with the council on the loan and wider business support?
The two people I’ve been working with closely at the council, Sandra and Keith, have been awesome and very supportive. At the first meeting I was a little nervous but they sat me down and said, ‘Steve, we’re here to make sure you get as much support as you need.’ Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, Sandra would pop across the road or give me a bell on the phone and say, ‘If you need to talk then we’re here.’ And that means a lot.
Would you recommend the OIF to other businesses?
Every single day I tell people that this is out there and to tap into it. Even if you don’t live in the area you can still get help if you want to set your business up in Tottenham. The interest is minimal – I would never have been able to afford a loan from a bank because of the interest - and you have a year’s grace before you start paying back. So you can build your business up first and then start paying the loan back.
Tell us some more about your business…
I wanted to open a place in Tottenham which offers healthy options for local people because obesity is on the rise. So we’ll be offering lots of tasty dishes, organic and vegan meals, and lots of fish. The food will be cooked in the oven, so nothing is fried, and it will all be washed and prepared in the purified, alkaline water. We’ll also have a range of healthy juices such as orange and pineapple to which we would have added the alkaline water.
I’ve got a few members of staff and have taken on a couple of apprentices. The apprentices have never worked before but I was working away and one of them knocked on the door and then she brought a friend. I wanted to help them because they were young and enthusiastic and I’ve been given a chance in life so why shouldn’t they?