The Lunchbox Cafe, at Centre Point, Pound Street, Larne, has been a “resounding success” for Acceptable Enterprises Ltd.
With a special focus on quality fresh food at reasonable prices, the public in Larne has been voting with its feet.
The Lunchbox concept was developed by the local social enterprise company as a web-based platform which would enable customers to order food online from a PC, tablet, or smart phone.
Chief executive David Hunter explained: “The thing is we have been somewhat overwhelmed by the success of our Lunchbox Café onsite and this has slowed us up a little in terms of getting the online site established.
“One customer remarked last week that ‘we are a victim of our own success’ as he waited to get a seat in the café. Such has been the popularity that we are currently revising the seating plan to allow for extra tables and chairs.
“Please call and collect a menu, or if you are a local business give us a call on 28274992 and we will arrange to post one out.”
Mr Hunter continued: “I would encourage the public in Larne to support Lunchbox. If you are going to have a sit-in or takeaway lunch, you might as well support a local charity at the same time.”
Another aspect of the company is also being developed.
AEL has a long standing tradition of sub-contracting packaging work. About two years ago, the company decided it would shift its emphasis, bringing in products in bulk and repackaging for sale on ebay and Amazon.
Goods including favour bags, coloured envelopes, sweet bags, clothes pegs, lollipop sticks and others are all packaged for resale onsite.
Mr. Hunter stated: “The results have been nothing short of amazing and the company now purchases goods from the Far East and distributes these goods across the world.
“Under the guidance of Nicholas Dummigan, from ND Online, our sales have rocketed providing new jobs and much-needed income for our social enterprise organisation. All of the profits raised from this activity are reinvested in the business, helping AEL to help others with disadvantage.”
Recently, AEL has also been involved in a partnership arrangement with another social enterprise organisation based in Magheramorne. ‘Learning to Grow’ is currently building Ireland’s first social enterprise bottled water plant on the shores of Larne Lough. It is anticipated that water bottling will commence in the spring of 2015 and AEL will be involved in creating additional work placements for up to four people.
Since 2012, 10 new jobs have been created taking those employed from 15 to 25. A very important part of AEL’s business remains the help of its five volunteers, who give up their free time to support the business.
Mr Hunter said: “We are a client-focused organisation. The concept, going forward, will be to train disadvantaged people for employment whilst creating employment within our own businesses.
“It is vital that those who face extra challenges in life be provided with an opportunity to progress and feel part of their local community and wider society.”