Since its launch in 2013, The Good Life Eatery has become a stalwart fixture on the London food scene, with locations in Chelsea, Belgravia and Marylebone. The Resident meets founders Yasmine Larizadeh and Shirin Kouros, two women at the forefront of the health food movement
Young entrepreneurs Yasmine Larizadeh and Shirin Kouros clearly knew exactly what they wanted to bring to the city with The Good Life Eatery. Kouros, having realised she loved the food and hospitality field, decided to dedicate her life to it, training at the French Culinary Institute in New York before working at the three Michelin star restaurant, Daniel. Although realising she loved and understood the industry, fine dining wasn’t for her.
Meanwhile in London, Larizadeh was starting to wonder if her corporate job was right and was dreaming of opening her own restaurant. ‘The only place you could eat where I worked in London after university below £30 was Pret and Eat, and I just kept thinking to myself that it was super weird how one of the most innovative cities in the world only offered this,’ she says. ‘So it became a scratching my own itch situation.’ Luckily for both women, their fathers happened to know each other in America and put them in touch.
With similar backgrounds and both being Iranian, they hit it off straight away and quickly the concept for The Good Life was born. ‘Initially, Shirin had a completely different idea to what I wanted to do,’ says Larizadeh. ‘But we merged the ideas into one. Now, Shirin does the menu development and I do the branding, marketing and creative direction of the business.’
Proving that healthy doesn’t need to mean scary, The Good Life embraces the Brit’s love of hearty food with a breezy, health-conscious LA vibe. Accessibility was at the heart of their vision: there was a gap in the market for a good-for-you eatery that isn’t all raw food and kale juice.
We want to offer simple food that is healthy. We don’t want to preach or be intimidating, and we feel that this makes us approachable
They are refreshingly open, laughing about how they are polar opposites, the stresses of their day so far and their own eating habits. It’s nice to hear in a saturated health food market where keeping up appearances comes, quite often, before the passion.
‘It was very hard to get a big salad or Californian-style sandwich, and we were really the first to do that in London,’ says Kouros. ‘It was also so hard to get cold pressed juices or good vegetable-based smoothies. Keeping it simple and minimally processed is the centre of it all.’
What resonates from the times I have visited the deli is that the demographic is hugely diverse. ‘It’s all walks of life, which is what we wanted to pinpoint,’ says Larizadeh. ‘It’s funny, because I’m really not a healthy person, while Shirin is “Health Person of the Century”, so the balance means we meet in the middle and it just works. It brought quite a nice equilibrium to The Good Life. We want to offer simple food that is healthy,’ says Kouros. ‘We don’t want to preach or be intimidating, and we feel that this makes us approachable.’
What is inspiring is how they leave no stone unturned. ‘I studied sustainable development so this was an important aspect for me,’ says Larizadeh. ‘From the interior to the way we embrace local aspects of community, we don’t do anything without knowing what the environmental implications are.’
People have a large misconception about women in the Middle East. Iranian women are at the forefront and driving force of any household
A lot of people expect them to open a lot more shops, but that isn’t the case – they do want to open more, just slowly and surely. ‘Industrial size vats of mayonnaise disgust me,’ laughs Larizadeh. ‘From this perspective, I don’t want to kill my love for food as well as growing my business. We are a high quality concept, and with quick and rapid growth you tend to lose that.’
I can’t help but wonder, in such a male-saturated industry, where they found the inspiration and drive to push this business forward – they now have three stores and a cookbook.
‘It was difficult at the age of 22 to be telling a 50-year-old man what to do,’ says Larizadeh. ‘But I guess you just have to be ballsy, and gender discrimination is rubbish – it doesn’t even enter my mind, it’s not relevant. Most of the people I work with are men, and they never make me feel uncomfortable about my gender.’
They tell me their mentor who they brought on as an investor is ‘one of the most bad-ass women you will ever meet’.
‘Although people have a large misconception about women in the Middle East, actually Iranian women are at the forefront and driving force of any household,’ explains Larizadeh. ‘So this has hugely inspired us to go out and do this. My mum is a killer cook and brought light and influence to my life. It’s pretty cool actually.’