Alfie Brown

The UK economy returned to growth in February despite continued pandemic-related restrictions, as businesses and consumers adapted and prepared for the relaxation of lockdown.

Hertfordshire Investor spoke Eli’s Pop Up in Hatfield about how they have coped with the crisis over the past year and their hopes for post-lockdown trading.

Danny Wheeler overcame the struggle of losing his job because of the pandemic by launching a takeaway with friends in Hatfield.

Keen to boost the Hertfordshire town’s street food scene, Wheeler and four friends pooled their savings to open a fried chicken business, Eli’s Pop Up. It employs 10 staff.

After generating a social media buzz, they began taking online orders in November and using a kitchen in a local pub to prepare food for delivery around Hatfield.


Wheeler, a former digital marketer, said: “There isn’t much government financial support for new businesses. You can get a loan at 6% interest rate, but that is a risk.”

“Lockdown’s toll on mental health paired with the stresses of a new business has made things hard,” he added. “What keeps us going is the drive to make this work.”

Open Wednesday to Sunday, the business makes £5,000 revenue a week, with plans to open a second location in Shoreditch, London, as an office lunch spot.

Wheeler said all the money earned is being reinvested into the business, which will pivot to outdoor sit-down dining at the pub. “Now the government is hitting the vaccine target, I’m optimistic that in June, things will go back to normal,” he said.

“People are buzzing to get back out there – we are trying to embrace that.”