On the ground floor of Melbourne Central, inside from the Elizabeth Street corner, you'll find the clean, green 365 Foodstore, open since August 2017 and buzzing with regulars.
With an interior that manages to be both warm, inviting and minimalist all at once, the theme speaks to its customer base and beautifully showcases its offerings. Customers are lining up for the coffee – there's the popular house blend and a daily single origin option available. If you're into fresh kombucha, it's available on tap – have a shot, serve yourself and bring back the bottle for a refill. And there's a great range of lentils, tabouli, falafel snacks and some sharp looking pastries.

I immediately spot the house range of bottled juices, squeezed on the premises each day in probably the most unbelievable juicing machine you'll find. I order a ‘Green Machine', with apple, spinach, pear, mint, kiwi fruit and kale. "That was made just 20 minutes ago", a cheerful team member tells me. "It's all natural – no preservatives, added sugar or anything extra."

"That's exactly what we do," Roy tells me. "Everything's out in the open, it's made in front of you, you can see where it comes from – it's in your face."

Keep going until you find your niche

An entrepreneur to his fingertips, Roy has been running his own businesses since he was 18, and spent some years running a multi unit hairdressing franchise. "That might seem very different to what I'm doing now, but there's still the same business essentials – customer service, who is your customer, the marketing and merchandising."

After selling that business, he needed a new focus. "I thought, what do I really want to do? What makes me passionate, what gets me out of bed in the morning? Fresh food and healthy living – I realised that was the direction I wanted to go in. I wanted to help change people's lifestyles."

But Roy also knew that, if the business was to be a success, he had to fill a gap in the market. "People are time poor – they need healthy options on the run, so that they aren't tempted to buy the unhealthy stuff. They want quality and convenience. And they also want the traditional, old-school service, like staff who remember how you have your coffee. That's something that's missing in a lot of places."

Once Roy knew what he wanted to do, how did he bring it to life? "These things take time – you can't expect everything to come together immediately. Going from the initial idea to opening the doors took me a good year of thinking, and then a second year of careful planning."

"The name I chose, 365 Foodstore, basically means healthy lifestyle, every day of the year. I wanted it to reflect that we're here all the time with the healthy food and snacks you need that don't make you feel heavy or tired. We're the only ones doing this here in Melbourne Central."

He assembled a team behind the scenes. "You need an agent, to help you find the right location, sort out leasing and so on. And you have to consider the customer demographic at that site, and whether it fits your business." He realised he needed to focus on areas where there's a good lunch crowd. "Coffee's our main driver in the morning, but then it's the fresh food at lunchtime."

You need the right tools for the job

Working with a designer is important. "You need to do the branding, establish the right look and feel for your market." And then there's the fit out. "Your shopfitter needs to create something that appeals to your demographic, will make them want them to come inside, make them feel like it's their kind of place. Prahran was our first store, and we've been refining the concept since then. Melbourne Central is where it all comes together."

Of course, businesses need finance. Roy notes that this is not his first business. "I've been able to sell one business and move everything to the next business, so I have that advantage. But there are ways you can cut corners and get help. I'd recommend Flexikitch – they have funding solutions designed to help new businesses open their doors and existing businesses expand and grow. They really back you and your business dream."

"Equipment is a major factor. Flexikitch have been my equipment partner for over three years. They help you with the big ticket items, working out what you need, getting all the equipment in place – and they'll tell you what you don't need as well. If your equipment isn't working, if it's not right or you need something bigger or smaller, they'll take it back, find you another one, get it installed for you.

"And importantly, they keep everything working for you, with regular servicing and maintenance. They really go above and beyond. Compare that with sourcing and buying equipment yourself, and then having to get everything installed, serviced and maintained.

Sourcing the right stock and offerings was also a focus. "We got our ZUMEX MASTERY industrial Cold Press Juicer from Spain – Flexikitch helped us source it – and there's no other juicer like it over here. People love watching us make fresh cold press juice with this machine. It's designed to maximise the extraction of nutrients from the juice."

He also stresses that you've got to put effort into finding good staff. "The team here are terrific – they care about what they're doing, they're important to our business and it shows."

So it's onwards and upwards then? "Here at Melbourne Central, this is our flagship store. The location is perfect – it's super busy, we have the station below and we're at the bottom of the GPT Tower, so it's doing really well. We also have our store at Greville Street in Prahran, which has an additional focus on groceries as there's a large residential customer base down there. And we're also in the Docklands - at ANZ headquarters, another busy location - plus we're opening up a location in Greensborough, with four more to follow. I'd say we're heading in the right direction, for sure."