Griff Holland and Ed Brown of Friska

Griff Holland and Ed Brown founded Bristol-based Friska in 2009 and have since opened a further seven stores in Bristol and Birmingham, employing nearly 100 staff. The duo, who have their sights on opening stores in Manchester and London in 2017, explain how healthy food and an ethical approach is a recipe for success…

The seed of the idea for Friska came 10 years before the business was actually launched, explains Griff Holland, whose coffee-shop business is taking Bristol by storm. The entrepreneur, who co-founded the ethical eatery in 2009 with Ed Brown, was first inspired while on a house exchange in California in 1999.

“I came across loads of fresh and incredibly tasty fast-food places and thought wouldn’t it be great if we had something like this back home.”

Fast forward to 2017 and Friska is thriving. With five stores and three concessions in Bristol and Birmingham, the independent restaurant, which serves a menu of wholesome dishes, is batting off the competition from large chains and fast becoming one of the most popular eateries in Bristol.

But how did Holland and Brown achieve such success? The co-founders believe it’s partly down to the company’s responsible approach to food, business and life in general. Every month Friska funds an entrepreneur in the third world through Deki – a micro-finance charity that allows people to lend as little as £10 to a business founder in a developing country. So far Friska has donated more than £27,000 to budding entrepreneurs across Africa.

“We [raise funds for charity] through the sale of our Deki Dish, with a portion of the money spent by the customer going towards Deki,” explains Holland. “Our ethical approach to business is a reason customers keep coming back.”

The sales of Friska’s pho noodles have already helped a fish retailer in Malawi expand her business so she is able to support her five children as well as helping other orphans in her home town.

“We are extremely proud of our partnership with Deki. Being able to change the lives of people for the better through micro-finance projects is an amazing thing to be involved in,” says Brown.

Food to make you feel good

Healthy food is another unique selling point for the business. The idea for Friska is to offer an alternative, healthy lunchtime option to workers, explains Holland. The challenge, he says, is persuading people to swap low-value sandwiches for homemade, gourmet food.

“Our menu sets us apart. It’s unique because it offers seasonal, healthy fast food that mixes traditional European cuisine with more exotic world recipes. Once people try our food, usually they become loyal customers.”

Looking ahead, Holland and Brown are hoping to expand the business. With Friska offering a very real alternative to mainstays such as Pret A Manger and Costa, it’s not surprising that the co-founders are excited about the future.

“Our mission is to redefine the expectations of how a breakfast and lunch venue makes a person feel. We are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact, and we want to be the UK’s leading healthy convenience food business,” adds Brown”

For more information about Friska, visit

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