V. Dorset originally launched in 2018 in Parkstone as a vegetarian and vegan catering company specialising in weddings and festivals.

They traded at two seasons of festivals and were due to trade at Glastonbury for the first time in 2020 when the lockdown cancelled the entire festival season, leaving them trying to find a way to keep the business going.

But this weekend the company expanded to take on additional premises in Boscombe and their resilience in such challenging times has now earned them the Bournemouth Echo Trader of the Week title.

Looking back over the year Keri Astill-Frew, who set up the business with husband Dan, said of the COVID-19 outbreak: "I am a chef by trade and have always had agency work to fall back on, but with the hospitality sector effectively closed I was left with very few options.

"I responded by switching to an online takeaway delivery service, now named V. Dorset Delivery, covering Poole and parts of Bournemouth, which has gone from strength to strength in the year since lockdown began. "

They offer 100% meat free burgers, mac and cheese, sides, desserts, and more, all cooked in their Parkstone kitchen and sent out using their own team of drivers.

Keri says they started V. Dorset in 2018 because "We saw that there was a gap in the market in Dorset for a vegetarian and vegan caterer. I am a chef who trained in Michelin star kitchens at the start of my career before working at a mixture of different places around the country for over ten years, and when I stopped eating meat in 2017 I found it difficult to find good quality meat free food in the area. This was before a lot of the amazing local plant-based businesses we have now had started up, and options were a lot more limited!"

They started as a wedding catering and street food business, but ended up focusing much more on the festival side of things. Keri said:"That suited my personality and I enjoyed travelling and getting to work at some incredible events. "

Some of the biggest events they traded at include Isle of Wight Festival, Boomtown, and the Great Dorset Steam Fair, as well as having stalls at both Bournemouth Christmas Market and Southampton Christmas Market.

In 2020 they were selected as a new trader at Glastonbury but the pandemic had other plans!

"It was a huge deal for us as it is very hard to get into and something that all street food traders aspire to. Unfortunately as we all know, the 2020 festival season was not to be!"says Keri.

"Very early in 2020 Dan and I both realised that there was a good chance of that summer's events not going ahead, so we decided to start up a takeaway delivery service as we already had a prep kitchen set up in our garage. We timed it well and were actually up and running and receiving our first online orders on the same week when the first lockdown was announced.

"Since receiving only four orders on our first night, we now regularly take upwards of fifty orders on Fridays and Saturdays, and have a team of three kitchen staff and five drivers at our Parkstone kitchen alone."

They are now expanding the business by taking on a second kitchen located in Boscombe which opened on Friday evening for orders.

This has effectively allowed them to double their delivery radius, and they now cover all areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole between the two sites.

Their menu is the same at the Boscombe kitchen as it is in Parkstone, and includes their delicious meat free burgers, mac and cheese, sides and desserts, as well as their signature Loaded Roast Potatoes - the food they were famous for at festivals.

Thanks to the success of their new business model over the past year the couple are "thrilled" to have launched at their second business location in Boscombe.

They are open in Boscombe Wednesday to Sunday evenings, in line with their Parkstone branch's opening hours.

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