A black cab driver has launched a pie and mash delivery service after seeing his income plummet during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Fridays and Saturdays, 31-year-old Josh Kelly loads the back of his taxi with takeaway meals to take to customers across his Islington neighbourhood in north London.
Popham Pies – named after the housing estate near Kelly's house from where he runs the business – was born in November 2020 after Kelly saw a loss of income due to the pandemic.
“It’s pretty much my main job now because there’s just no work in the taxi at the moment – obviously with the lockdown no-one’s going anywhere,” he said.
“When lockdowns come to an end there is some work, but very little, still quite bad. So this was just something to sort of guarantee me a bit more money per week.
“It is tough when you go from working six, seven days a week to doing nothing. So I really had to come up with something myself.”
Kelly, who has been a taxi driver for six years, said inspiration came from a fellow cabbie who opened his own food stall in Billericay, Essex.
He said he saw a “gap in the market” and was attracted to the idea of combining two long-standing parts of London culture.
“It’s traditional London and pie and mash in a traditional taxi, so I just thought it would catch people’s attention,” he said.
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Kelly sources the minced beef pies and mash from M Manze in Bermondsey, south London – one of the oldest pie shops in the capital.
Customers can order their Popham Pies packaged meals over Instagram, Facebook or Whatsapp, with a single pie and mash serving costing £5.
Kelly said he is up to 1,600 followers across Instagram and Facebook and estimates he has delivered close to 1,000 pies so far.
The impact of successive lockdowns over the past year has been “awful” for taxi drivers who used to be able to work 24 hours a day if they wanted to, Kelly added.
“It’s gone from that to you might work 10 hours and end up with £20,” he said. “I don’t even go out in the taxi any more, to be honest, because it’s just not worth it. Last time I went out I did four hours and I got one job which was £16 and that covered the diesel.”
Kelly thinks there will be a “lot less” cab drivers once the pandemic ceases, but he hopes to be able to continue the pie and mash delivery service, possibly recruiting other cab drivers to expand into other areas of London.
He also wants to capitalise on his following by launching Popham Taxis, a telephone black cab service, in April.
Additional reporting by PA.
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