What started as four best friends cooking up artisan stone baked pizzas in campsites, by the beach, and at festivals has now pitched up camp at a permanent site in Braunton, Devon.
Stoned’s meteoric rise from pop-up mini-van to popular foodie hangout was masterminded by 20-year old Tom Honey, thanks to his passion for unique toppings and flavour combinations and his innovative approach to open kitchen cooking.
Staying true to his pop-up roots, Tom has successfully translated Stoned’s signature open air dining experience - which he describes as ‘kitchen theatre, where flour would be flying, olive oil glugging and the fire roaring’ - to the high street, through a cleverly designed layout with prep stations and a pizza oven right in the middle of the restaurant.
Tom’s fresh approach to restaurant cooking and his knack for developing new and interesting business ideas is not solely limited to the concept of ‘kitchen theatre’.
Unlike many of his high-street rivals, Tom is a champion of getting young people into work and equipping them with the general employability skills and experience that they need before entering college, university or an apprenticeship scheme.
The social impact of Tom’s faith in youth is reflected by the fact that Stoned has employed over 40 local 16-24 year olds since the company started in 2013.
Reflecting on his start-up journey and the social good that Stoned has achieved along the way, Tom commented:
“For me business is about following your passion and doing something good in the community, and with Stoned I have been able to do just that.
“It’s been a whirlwind three years working on the project to bring Stoned’s festival experience indoors but it almost didn’t happen.
“Like so many other young entrepreneurs, finding sufficient funding to make my dream a reality was not straight forward. I was very happy to come across Business West’s Start & Grow programme, whose advisors helped me to secure a £25,000 loan which paid for the restaurant and fit out.”
“Seeing the potential in young people’s business ideas and helping them to acquire real-life business skills is what Business West excels at.
“Without my Start & Grow advisor’s support the process of applying for a start-up loan would’ve been a lot tougher.
“When I left school I knew that university wasn’t for me and I’m so glad that I’ve had the opportunity to continue growing a business that I’m passionate about.
“It’s heartening to know that there are people out there who genuinely want to help young people like myself make it in business and the world of work. Whether it’s in the form of start-up funding, loans and advice or even apprenticeships, instead of being unsure what to do after school, more and more options are available to young people now.
“I like to think that Stoned contributes to this in a small way by taking young people on giving them a firm basis to start their careers.”
Remarking on Tom’s success with Stoned, Business West start-up advisor Alyson Eyval said:
“We knew from the start that Tom’s business idea was going places and that he had the spark and the tenacity to take it forward. Yet a lack of information and advice at the business planning stage means that young entrepreneurs all too often fall at the first hurdle.
“Funding bodies and agents are sometimes wary of lending to start-ups as the risk of not paying the money back is seen as too high.
“This is doubly true of young entrepreneurs with zero credit rating and who lenders often perceive as inexperienced.
“The Start & Grow programme is designed to help young entrepreneurs overcome these barriers by supporting them with their funding applications and through providing one-to-one business coaching to ensure that they are investment ready.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to help Tom get his first leg up in business and continue to amaze more and more customers with his innovative cooking style - not to mention the social impact that Stoned has had in the local community.”