Islington cab driver launches pie and mash delivery after coronavirus hit his income

Josh Kelly with his taxi

Josh Kelly with his taxi - Credit: Popham Pies

A London taxi driver has converted his cab into a pie and mash delivery service, after his takings dropped by half during the coronavirus pandemic.

Josh Kelly, of Central Street, set up Popham Pies, and now delivers the traditional East End fare to Islington residents on Fridays and Saturdays.

Josh, who has been a black cab driver for six years, sources the food from London's oldest pie and mash firm, M.Manze's.

Pie and mash

Pie and mash - Credit: Popham Pies

He started off preparing orders at his mum’s house across the road from the Popham Estate - and that is how Popham Pies got its name.

Josh Kelly's taxi in Popham Street, from where his company's name originates. 

Josh Kelly's taxi in Popham Street, from where his company's name originates. - Credit: Popham Pies

Josh recalls struggling to compete for cash over the summer months, during the coronavirus lockdown when there was little demand for cab rides.

“It was a lot of sitting around, waiting at Sainsbury’s taxi rank at the Angel," he said.

"I’d wait two hours to get a five pound job. It was awful.

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“You get used to being so busy all day, and suddenly it no longer seems worth it."

He then had the idea to set up a food stall in Islington, inspired by a friend who did the same.

However, Josh quickly realised this was going to cost more than expected.

After coming up with the idea to deliver food using his taxi, he set up a social media page in November.

To date he has sold over 400 pies, and has a Facebook following of more than 700.

The level of demand surprised Josh, who rarely talks about his new business.

“To be honest, a lot of my friends still don’t know it’s me," he said.

"I’ve had people tell me about [the delivery service] without knowing its mine. I’ve kept it to myself.”

Josh would like to run his own shop one day.

“If I had people work in the shop for me, I’d get back in the taxi and the shop could make money on the side," he said.

A spokesperson from M.Manze’s said: "For me, pie and mash is such a London traditional thing. And in very adverse times, it’s great to see someone being innovative with it.

"We’re always pleased when people take our pies. In a downturn economy, for someone to go out and do that for us is brilliant.

"It’s helped us as well because all our restaurants were closed so our online business and our trade business has enabled us to keep all our people. So it’s very much a two-way thing."

Popham Pies can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and London taxi drivers can get 10 per cent off orders by showing their badge on delivery. 

Delivery is free with a minimum spend of £10.