New vegan 'fakeaway' launches in Peterborough today


Katie, George and Ralphy are looking forward to opening

Katie McShane and George Smith, the founders of a new vegan food experience for Peterborough, were not expecting the response they got when, on August 23, they took to Facebook to announce Ralphy's Fakeaway.

With 77 shares and 100 likes in under 48 hours, the appetite for plant-based goodness cannot be underestimated - and it's drummed up excitement (and nerves) for the duo.

Speaking to Peterborough Matters, Katie said: "This all started, really, because George and I love to cook. We're both vegans and have always loved cooking really big meals for everyone, friends, family."

And the pandemic played a big part. George's career was hit hard by the shutdown - he worked in the music industry, going from tour life in March 2020 to a retail job in the middle of the year, just to be able to get by.

"It was tough," he said. "I just wanted to get control of my life again and be in charge of what I was doing."

So Ralphy's Fakeaway was born. With branding inspired by their "mad" Frenchie, Ralphy, and a menu of fried (fake) chicken, no beef burgers and loaded fries, it's personal and something they believe in.

George said: "We think there's a space in Peterborough. Veganism is a growing choice and people deserve something like this - either because they're vegans themselves and want some good quality junk food catered to their diet, or because they're considering making the change and want to see what's on offer."

Katie added: "It's been a long journey! We started putting everything together at the start of the year and hoped we'd be in our unit at the end of May.

"But we actually just got in three weeks ago and it was an empty shell. So in three weeks we've gone from nothing to a space where we can have customers and cook enough for delivery."

And if they were hoping for a soft opening, well, those likes and shares might suggest otherwise.

The business opens today at one of the new units (number eight) on Vicarage Farm Road and both Katie and George are excited ("and petrified," Katie chipped in) about the way it's been received already - before a single burger has been sold.

"It's blown up so much more than we thought," they admitted. "It's been incredible. Our space to come in and eat is very small, only 12 tables, but we're signed up to Deliveroo and Grab and so can get our menu out to all of the city and surrounding areas."

Almost all packaging for Ralphy's deliveries is sustainable - with the one thing that isn't made from recycled plastic - and it's a buzzword for one of the business priorities. One of the reasons for the rise in veganism over the past few years is, of course, climate change and the effect that eating and farming less meat can have.

The growing market has been good for George and Katie's business plan, but their experience and knowledge means they know where exactly to tap in.

Katie explained: "I've been vegan for a long time - about 16 years - and for so long eating out anywhere was impossible. There's been a real change in attitude - even since George went vegan five years ago.

"But even though it's boomed and places have options on the menu for vegans, Ralphy's is kind of more about the whole menu being a junk food haven. Yeah, we want to be healthy and veganism is a way to be healthier for a lot of people... but sometimes you just want fried food."

Fried food with some cauli wings, poutine and a freak-shake, please.

Find out more about Ralphy's Fakeaway and how to order on its Facebook page.