Conscious and responsible consumption is the latest trend: many more people want things on their plate that are not only delicious but also good for their health and keeping them fit, and it even does not harm the environment. Fruccola recognised this demand eight years ago and it offers healthy, sustainably produced alternatives to traditional restaurants in its “fast casual food” concept, and all in the lower or medium price segment.
If you visit one of the two Fruccola restaurants at lunchtime, the first thing you will notice is the long queue to get in. The Fruccola at Kristóf tér near the popular shopping street Váci utca is one of the most beloved meeting points for a healthy lunchbreak. The key to its success is the varied offer, favourable prices and fast service.
Fruccola’s interior is dominated by a long bar, functional furniture and numerous decorations made of recycled materials. Although the different elements, such as the glasses, packaging materials and clothing of the employees, which all bear the branding of the restaurant, remind us of those used in any of the globally operating fast-food chains, Fruccola is actually a small, Hungarian family company with some 40 employees.
It was founded in 2008 with the opening of the first Fruccola restaurant in Arany János utca by Petra Saás, a Budapest glass designer who encountered a significant market niche as she was searching for good, healthy and ecologically conscious food in the city. Her husband, Péter Tausz, came on board in 2011, when the second restaurant at Kristóf tér was opened.
Fruccola has been a pioneer on the gastronomic scene from the very beginning, Tausz says, for example with using biologically decomposable product packaging, since everything in the restaurant from the drinking cups to the salad boxes and sandwich papers is compostable.
Moreover, the restaurant is trying to source its raw materials regionally from ecological producers. “The greatest challenge for us is the continuous search for suppliers who share our values,” he says. To further reduce its ecological footprint, Fruccola is using a local bicycle carrier for deliveries whenever possible.
Although the “cheap is good” mentality is more and more questioned by consumers, the cost factor still plays a major role in decisions about consumption in Hungary. “We knew exactly that our concept could only be successful in Hungary if we could manage to attract high turnover numbers,” Tausz reasons. “This is the only way we can offer food that is affordable for the broad masses but at the same time contains ingredients that are high-quality, fairly handled and sustainably produced.”
This is why their concept rather reminds us of that of a fast-food restaurant, with its 400 portions served each day: you order and pay at the counter, the products are prepared fast and the diners often only stay for a short time.
“The main difference from a fast-food restaurant is the freshness and quality of the dishes, and that instead of cardboard boxes we serve them on real porcelain just like in a normal restaurant,” Tausz says. The concept is called “fast casual food” and he says it originates from the USA.
The main ingredients are healthy fruits and vegetables and some super cereals, such as couscous and co. They also offer numerous meat toppings, although in digestible dimensions. In addition to this they have many vegetarian and vegan options, with gluten- and lactose-free dishes. We can argue if this is really healthier or only a fashion wave, but whichever, Fruccola is responding to the everyday reality.
The restaurant is already open at seven in the morning and offers an especially rich breakfast and brunch selection, for example freshly mixed muesli, omelettes with a lot of vegetables or pancakes with bananas, cinnamon and maple syrup.
During the course of the morning they continuously fill up the large cooling racks with freshly and locally prepared sandwiches and so-called “grab and go” products such as tapioca puddings, small vegetable and fruit salads, and delicious juices, lemonades and smoothies.
Especially the pineapple-spinach smoothie prepared with coriander, lemon and orange juice is worth trying from the smoothie range – enjoying the green health booster is particularly refreshing on a hot summer day.
From 11.30am to the evening hours they provide lunch with a la carte offers, seasonally changing menus and a large salad bar. From 4pm both restaurants tempt with a coffee and cake offer for HUF 990.
Fruccola connects people: before, when meat-eaters and vegetarians, gluten-resistant people and bread enthusiasts wanted to meet up, one of them had to compromise his choice. Fruccola on the other hand offers a satisfying selection for everyone. Instead of taking a position in the battle of diet philosophies, everyone can enjoy a good meal here.
Fruccola is much more than just a restaurant, since they save the leftover food in co-operation with Budapest Bike Mafia and Food Bank Hungary, and are part of numerous other social projects. This is a cherry on top for its modern, conscious consumers.
32 Arany János utca, District V
Open Monday to Friday 7am-7pm
Orders at (+36-1) 430-6125
See website www.fruccola.hu
Breakfast and brunch: HUF 320-1790
Sandwiches: HUF 590-1190
Main dishes: HUF 990-2290
Juices, yoghurt drinks and shakes
(0.3 litres): HUF 540-1050