The restaurateur is celebrating yet more success with his hugely popular lobster offering while also supporting the Scottish fishing industry.
If you’d have told MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Dean Banks he’d have sold 14,000 lobsters in the space of around eight months during a pandemic he’d never had believed you.
Fast forward to today and the Arbroath-born chef has done just that, with more than 10,000 orders placed for his dine at home experience as part of his food delivery business Haar at Home.
Developed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic forcing him to close his Haar restaurant back in March, Dean says he never expected the business to take off the way it has.
In fact such has been the success of his venture, he has had to move premises and hire additional staff to keep up with demand.
He said: “Christmas is looking a bit mental with regards to Haar at Home. We hit a massive benchmark of 14,000 lobsters this week – it is just crazy. I think we’ve produced 14,000 orders and 10,000 boxes since it all started. It is just mad.”
Now the proud owner of two restaurants in St Andrews, fine dining restaurant Haar and upmarket fish and chip eatery Haarbour, Dean has not only managed to keep his staff in jobs throughout the pandemic, despite the challenges the hospitality industry has encountered, he has also managed to support local fisherman, too.
A Godsend to local businesses, the success of Haar at Home has seen thousands of Scottish lobsters making their way across the country in his luxury dining boxes which Dean prides himself on.
He said: “Week by week we’re in direct contact with all of the boats and we now have a boat that catches our langoustines. For the lobsters we have three or four boats and we’ve got one for our crabs.
“Its not until you see big numbers like these that you realise how much you’ve been supporting other people’s businesses directly since the pandemic first came to a head in March. We’ve been buying anything they land and use it elsewhere in the business as much as we can, too.
“We’re also now fully in our new unit in Perth so we’re all set up there and it is very much designed and equipped for what we need, so it makes things run a lot smoother. It was fit bespoke for what we do.
“For Haar at Home I’ve had to employ new staff throughout and I now have 11 people working on it alone. I’ve actually just employed my aunt who is now going to be the unit’s general manager.”
Go BIG this festive season with Dean's Luxury Christmas Feast 🎅The Lobster King himself has handpicked some of the…
Saturating the market
Showcasing the best of Scottish produce, Dean is proud to be highlighting the quality seafood and shellfish the country boasts and has had to outsource to other parts of Scotland to get more lobster to meet customer demand.
He now receives Scottish native lobster from both the east and west coast after saturating a few of his local markets.
He added: “All of our lobsters are Scottish native lobsters. We’ve had to outsource outside of St Andrews because we have kind of saturated the market. I think we’ve taken all of the lobster from St Andrews. We also take from Arbroath and have sourced some from the Outer Hebrides, too.
“We have great relationships with everyone and I always wanted to make sure I was using the shellfish from Arbroath that came onto the market, especially because that is where I am from.
“The fisherman I use also supply to other long-term customers and catch a lot of velvet crabs and sometimes they will only sell their lobster to those individuals who will buy their velvet crabs, too. You really need to make good relationships with these people to be able to get the lobster you need.
“Velvet crabs are huge in the European market but there’s no market for them in the UK.”
But it’s not just the UK Dean has his eyes set on for 2021. The restaurateur has big plans which might just take his boxes as far as the big apple and beyond as a result of the business’ success.
“We’ve actually been looking into sending our boxes to New York next day delivery. We’ve been in chats with someone about it and we have been considering it for a while, but it is really all about finding the right market more than anything,” said Dean.
Marcus Wearing talks about our signature lobster dish 😮We deliver nationwide so you can enjoy this luxury meal (and others) prepared by Masterchef finalist Dean Banks and the team at Haar from the comfort of your own home with Haar at Home 🦞Visit our website: haarathome.co.uk/
Posted by Haar at Home on Wednesday, December 9, 2020
“I’ve got loads of friends who live in Switzerland and they have asked about getting the boxes delivered over there. The boxes last 48 hours in transit so it is definitely something we’re looking into and may happen in the future. It would be pretty cool if we did.
“I am really looking forward to getting over this winter. There’s a real Yin and Yang feeling for me. I leave Haar at Home super happy then go to St Andrews and Haar is only open one day a week. We’re going to open fully over the festive period but the town is dead, the students have gone home, we’re in Tier 3 and the car parks are all empty.
“Haar at Home is here to stay I think. Once all four of the businesses are back up and running and working in full swing it is going to be very exciting times.”
The rise of wagyu
At the introductory price of £29.95, burger fans can get their hands on four wagyu beef patties and cook up a storm under the instruction of the leading Scottish chef with a whole host of ingredients included to create what Dean describes at “the perfect burger”.
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Dean said: “It has been going so well. The first week we did 100 boxes and then the second it was 150 and it just seems to be growing, too. Hopefully we’ll be doing as many of them as the lobster boxes in no time.
“We’ve had some excellent feedback on it as well so it has been really great.”