Thinking business with Brian Lee, Chopped

‘The challenge we’re facing now in growing the business is that landlords are making a lot of the same mistakes that got us into the previous recession.’

My elevator pitch

Chopped is Ireland’s leading and original healthy fast food retailer developed to meet the needs of the growing number of Irish consumers who want a great tasting meal that is healthy, delicious and fresh.

When did we start? 

We opened our first outlet, on Baggot Street, in 2012 and we’ve been confounding our critics ever since. 

When I was young

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was 11, I set up a gardening business. I printed off flyers, delivered them around the neighbourhood and got to work.

My ambition now

My ultimate goal is to make Chopped as big as McDonald’s. We want to see Chopped making a genuine difference in the world and changing the perception of fast food. Thanks to Chopped, fast food is now healthy. 

The most important thing I’ve learned so far?

Never think anyone is a fool, the day you do is the day you become the fool. It’s vital to treat everyone you encounter with respect and courtesy. 

My biggest ‘mistake’ to date?

I have avoided adversity by always taking measured and calculated risks. I don’t jump into any decision lightly. When I made the decision to move to a franchise model, I took on the best advisors and developed our model over two years to ensure that we got it right and only made a move when I knew we were ready.

Who inspires me?

Richard Branson. I remember reading his autobiography, ‘Losing My Virginity’ when I was 17 and being able to tie aspects of his life to mine. If I were able to replicate him for the rest of my life, I’d be doing very well. I admire him for being able to create a brand across multiple sectors, not just one.


What historical figure would I choose to have dinner with? 

Muhammad Ali. He changed the world so much inside and outside sport. 

If I was ‘ruler for a day’, what would I change? 

The challenge we’re facing now in growing the business is that landlords are making a lot of the mistakes that got us into the previous recession. They have already started raising rents to unsustainable levels. That is something I would change.

Did I receive any supports to and what do we need most at this stage? 

My business partner Andy and I didn’t receive any state or bank supports to start our business. However, we have had brilliant support from our friends our family. We couldn’t have had the success we’ve had without them. We’ve also been lucky to have incredible franchisees who have helped us grow. We are now across Dublin, Kildare and Galway. What we need now is more amazing people who fit the Chopped ethos to partner with and help us grow.

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