Feature Business: Turning over a new Leafy – in the middle of a pandemic

Submitted by Sophie Banks

A new concept in retail hospitality has opened in the heart of leafy commuter city St Albans in Hertfordshire, in the middle of the pandemic.

Leafy is a Scandinavian-style salad-bar and contemporary gift shop and is the brainchild of Swedish-born Johanna Zissman, who is passionate about healthy eating and stylish living. 

She opened her first branch of Leafy just in time for retailers to come out of lockdown, and for hospitality businesses to be allowed to seat people outdoors.

Leafy had been open for two weeks before the lockdown restrictions eased on Monday 12th, as it is a salad-bar so sells food and drink for takeaway, and is already proved a hit with the locals, even in lockdown with no retailers open. But Johanna (and her co-owner husband Oliver) are now welcoming many more customers into Leafy, as retail is once again open and St Albans city centre is buzzing. 

“My inspiration for Leafy has come from the Scandinavian love of health-conscious food,” she says, “and we can already tell that this is a concept that is going to be popular with St Albans people as we’ve had so many lovely comments from our customers, and have already fed a lot of people!

“I think people across the whole country, world even, have been rethinking what they put in their bodies and reprioritising health in a year when it’s never been so important to be healthy. I’m very proud to be offering local people our Leafy food, which is healthy but also delicious!”

Leafy is offering popular Scandi foods including plant-based Grilled Pulled Oumph and Räksmörgås, the open Swedish Prawn Sandwich.

Customers are invited to build their own salads from a selection of ingredients starting with the leafy base, then the carbs, the protein, toppings, the crunch (seeds) and then the dressing, all made by Leafy.

And for those who are hungry for a bit of retail shopping having been starved of the opportunity for three months, Leafy also sells a curated range of gifts from the stylish online retailer Beyond Living, which includes the cool Dutch brand ‘The Gift Label’.

From mid-May, according to the Government roadmap, customers will be able to enjoy their Leafy salads in the stylish surroundings of the Leafy store, which also features a coffee bar. But until then there are some tables outside and takeaway is always on the menu with salads being served inrecycled sugar cane bowls.

And Johanna is hoping that St Albans shoppers will have built up an appetite after being able to shop in their favourite stores again.

“I’m so pleased that retailers are allowed to reopen,” she says. “And of course we’d love to help fuel their energy levels so they can support the amazing local independents, who’ve had such a tough time.”

You can visit the Scandi inspired salad bar & gift store which is now open in Christopher Place, St. Albans. You can also visit the website at https://www.leafy.co.uk/