Five years ago, Alex Apostolakos had finished a university degree in Construction Management and was working for Telstra . . . but he knew he wanted to do something different and began looking for business ideas. With his Greek heritage, he knew people always enjoyed Greek food and so he decided to open a shop creating Lukoumades: traditional Greek donuts.
The original Lukoumades store opened in Hyde Park and did well in its first year. Alex then bought a food truck and established the brand in that market, too, attending lots of events like WOMADelaide, Adelaide 500 and Carols by Candlelight. A year and a half after opening in Hyde Park, he opened another store at Henley Beach, and has since added a shop at Norwood.
Lukoumades is now just four years old and the original staff of five people has grown to 50. The business has expanded quickly because it’s a unique offer, and Alex has been thorough with promotions, events and marketing.
Alex’s second endeavour, The Potato Project, was created in the middle of last year’s pandemic and has a different menu and market, appealing to city workers in the CBD. The store offers a range of affordable and healthy food bowls, with a base choice of baked potato, baked sweet potato or brown rice. There are a range of pre-set options, but customers can also change items based on their preferences.
“Alex’s company has experienced managed and steady growth,” says Oreon Partner Ben Reynolds. “It’s been really good to see a young person step out of their career, look for an opportunity in the market, take a risk, and set up a completely unrelated business that’s going so well.”
Challenges During The Business Journey And Through COVID
Lukoumades has a dine-in option for customers – but during the pandemic, the business had to completely remodel for takeaway and concentrate on delivery using services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.
The Potato Project opened in the middle of the pandemic. Alex offered half price bowls for the first week, and then got hit with SA’s mini lockdown in November 2020. He ended up keeping the business afloat with personal savings for a while. The city was a ghost town for a couple of months, which meant his main target market – office workers – dropped off with many people working from home.
The Potato Project recovered thanks to more foot traffic in the city. Now, the corporate catering side of things has really taken off and Alex hopes to contact 500 Adelaide businesses by the end of June regarding catering options.
Keys To Success
In addition to offering unique menu items that customers love (and keep coming back for), Alex believes that one of the most valuable things he’s done along the way is to try new things and constantly put money back into his business.
“We always try to keep things fresh with new menus and updates,” he says. “The Hyde Park location is already getting an upgrade. It’s been really important to reinvest in the business.”
He says his top ten tips for other entrepreneurs are:
- Never give up
- Love what you do
- Take risks
- Look for problem solvers
- Attract great people
- Don’t do it by yourself
- Reinvest money
- Have a great product
- Increase your contacts
- Don’t acquire liabilities before assets
Oreon’s Role In The Business Journey
Alex was a personal client of Oreon Partners before starting Lukoumades. Oreon helped ensure that the business was set up properly from the start and created a clear pathway for growth, offering guidance along the way.
Over the past few years, the Oreon team has offered advice on business structures and taxation, assistance with leasing and insurance, and served as a business mentor and sounding board. During COVID, Oreon helped the company access government stimulus packages and sort out rent relief.
“Oreon has simplified everything for us,” says Alex. “The best things about working with them are the one-on-one service we receive and the mutual trust we have instilled in each other over the years of working together.”
“The relationship has been good for Oreon, too,” says Ben Reynolds. “We get to be on the receiving end of their delicious products, and Lukoumades has been a regular supplier to our annual Adelaide 500 event.”
For Lukoumades, Alex is looking at expanding interstate, starting with Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast. With The Potato Project, he plans to keep growing and expand to an additional SA store. With their success so far, we’re sure that the future for both businesses will be sweet!