Meet Frankie and Becky – the engineers of the humane street-food company, BA-HA. The business owners met seven years ago in a whiskey bar, and established their plant-based food company four years later. The creation of ‘BA-HA’ – meaning ‘life and feed’ in Gaelic – fused Frankie’s Irish roots with their aspiration to address the gap in the market for vibrant, vegan food.
What’s the Story?
With a vision of bringing plant-based goodness to Birmingham, Frankie and Becky began by selling freshly baked pastries and cakes to the employees at their local pub and surrounding office block. These beginnings soon evolved further, as the pair started making waves within the food festival scene. As word of the ambitious duo spread, BA-HA began operating within seasonal markets and as a pop-up in 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter.
Speaking to the street-food duo, their passion and unparalleled work ethic is unmistakable; Becky recalls how “on one occasion, the BA-HA team were at three venues in the same day, meaning that we did a 23-hour stretch”.
The pair’s commitment to supplying the city with hearty vegan dishes did not stop there. Upon being approached about a residency opportunity at The Mailbox, Frankie and Becky made it their personal mission to tackle the scepticism surrounding plant-based food. The BA-HA team veganised the Mailbox operation manager’s favourite dish, and before they knew it, they had secured a three-year residency at the iconic retail development.
BA-HA and Stag Collaboration
Four years after the BA-HA team embarked on their vegan food odyssey, the journey has now led them to a collaboration with Stag Digbeth. As Frankie and Becky are both existing customers of Stag, the joining of forces seemed as though it was meant to be.
“After seeing Ben’s dog, Knoxley, in Stag’s old shop, I knew that I had to pop in to say hello” says Frankie recalling her first encounter with Stag, “I had my undercut done and enjoyed a beer whilst waiting, and the rest is history”.
By uniting BA-HA and Stag’s mutually forward-thinking approach to business, the collaboration brings together the quirky combo of a barbershop and bar with the soulful flavours of BA-HA. Whether you’re in need of a high-quality trim, a carefully crafted cocktail, or a street-food fix – Stag Digbeth ft. BA-HA has got you covered.
It’s easy to see how BA-HA has been acclaimed as the highest-rated plant-based restaurant in Birmingham’s city centre with Becky and Frankie’s customer-focused approach and their cutting-edge attitude towards the food industry. We managed to sit down and gain an insight into the couples’ journey and goals after a busy first day serving plant based goodness to Digbeth’s locals.
“Seeing the customers’ positive reaction is a daily highlight for us” says Becky, “but meeting Kevin Smith from ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ when he was performing at The Hollywood Babble was also pretty cool”.
Kevin Smith isn’t the only famous face that Becky and Frankie have crossed paths with since owning BA-HA. Frankie tells us about her meetings with American singer and actress, Mya: “It’s a funny story, actually” reveals Frankie, “we watched Mya at Pride, and later on we bumped into Pritt Kalsi who invited us for drinks with them in the Radison. Mya asked about places to eat nearby, and I mentioned that there is a place in the Mailbox that might serve some vegan food”. Frankie laughs, “As we walked into BA-HA, Mya asked if I was a regular there because all of the staff said “hello” as I came in”.
Becky explains how great it was to see Mya’s positive reaction. “As we were tucking into the food, Mya asked if any of it was vegan, not knowing that all of it was!”
“She’s stayed in touch, been to BA-HA again since and we also catered for her whole entourage when she performed at the NIA. We got invited to see her perform as well which was awesome”.
There’s no room for debate when it comes to Irish-born owner, Frankie’s, menu recommendation: “The loaded poms. Always loaded, never plain. We didn’t go through the potato famine for nothing!”
As a born-and-bred brummy, Becky explains that at the moment BA-HA are focusing on solidifying their ties with fellow independents in Birmingham. “We love working with other business owners who share our passion and love of the city” says Becky, “each new collaboration brings a new dynamic to the BA-HA brand, and keeps things fresh and exciting”.
“In the more distant future, we aim to expand the BA-HA brand further. We’re in the process of discovering new ways to make our food more widely accessible without compromising on our prevailing high-quality.”
“The pop-up is permanent at Stag Digbeth so don’t worry, we’ll be around for a while, but don’t forget Stag + BAHA are part of the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme which finishes at the end of August!”
“We are also doing a two-week pop-up at Little Black Wood in Moseley from Wednesday to Sunday from 23rdSeptember.”
Make sure you follow us and BA-HA on Instagram @stagdigbeth and @bahaveganuk to keep up-to-date on the latest updates!
By Beth Hutton