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Vegan eatery Happy Maki is opening a 50-seat restaurant in Brighton – and it will operate a ‘Pay What You Feel’ system.

The brand, which was started by Anna MacDonald in a bid to raise awareness of overfishing issues and how the sushi industry was contributing to this, offers what it describes as ‘vegan fast food’.

Happy Maki

Happy Maki has offered its range of sushi wraps and bowls at festivals across the UK over the last three years. It also runs a small takeaway outlet next to Brighton Pier. 

The brand runs several philanthropic initiatives – like planting a tree and providing meals for children for every wrap it sells – via its charitable partnerships with Eden Reforestation Projects and Mary’s Meals. 

‘Pioneering experiment’

Now it wants to try what it describes as a ‘pioneering experiment’ which will make healthy, delicious vegan food available to those who normally wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Happy Maki will open its 50-seat eatery – specializing in sushi ‘rolls and bowls’, with toppings from vegan ‘salmon’ sashimi to miso and ginger tempeh, and implement a ‘gift economy’ using a ‘modern and customer-facing, Pay As You Feel till system’.

‘Treating customers more kindly’

Happy Maki admits some people believe that the Pay As You Feel system is a risk, but it believes it instead offers an opportunity to ‘become more connected in a world that is largely controlled by money and emotions of greed, scarcity and fear’.

The brand adds: “The drive behind the business had never been profit but rather serving the community and helping our environment. This is just the next step in growing that desire and hopefully starting a much-needed conversation about money and our emotions surrounding it. 

“When we decided this was a change we wanted to make, we trailed our new Pay As You Feel business model at two festivals at the end of our 2019 season. This was a brilliant chance to gain much-needed insight into how people interacted with the servers, how they decided on their donation amount and how we could do our best to make the experience easy and clear.  

“We focus a lot on the principles of economy and function in all aspects of our business…From what we have researched and our event trials, we have developed the world’s first business donation “point of sale” software working with web application company Long Live King and Payment provider Square. This will be made available for people to use and customize.” 

Crowdfunding

Happy Maki is currently crowdfunding to bring its plans to fruition, and is hoping to raise £80,000.

“We are aware it’s a large amount of money but are also proud that we can do some amazing things for an old restaurant at a very reasonable cost for a full renovation,” says the team. 

“The beauty of our Pay As You Feel model is that even if you can’t offer a monetary contribution, you can still be a part of our movement. We would really appreciate it if you could share our campaign, by the spreading the word, we can make sure that those who could benefit most hear about what we’re doing. You get in touch if you think you have some skills we could use.” 

You can find out more details about Happy Maki’s crowdfunder and plans here

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.