The group, founded by local food sourcing restaurateur Helena Hudson, is now aiming to expand to 15 or 16 sites overall.
The first Real Eating Company site opened in Lewes near Brighton in 2004, after then-advertising executive Hudson saw an opportunity to open an independent business championing good quality, local produce, and employing happy, local staff.
Hudson secured the loan with finance providers RateSetter, after a meeting with the company convinced her that the group was genuinely interested in the success of the Real Eating Company, and supported Hudson as a sole, female business owner.
“I want to grow organically rather than be in a rush to expand – that keeps me in control and the growth will remain sustainable,” says Hudson.
On her desire to keep the company productive and working locally, she says: “We spend a lot of time working on productivity. Labour costs are our biggest outgoing [and] the cost of goods is obviously important too. As we get bigger, we are achieving economies of scale while sticking with local suppliers.”
The Real Eating Company also has two sites in Bournemouth, and one apiece in Horsham, Kingston, Chichester and Salisbury.