Friday, October 22 2021

Everytable sells healthy food in low income neighborhoods like South Los Angeles at prices competitive with fast food. The restaurant’s outlets will have different price structures depending on the neighborhood.

Courtesy of Everytable


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Courtesy of Everytable


Everytable sells healthy food in low income neighborhoods like South Los Angeles at prices competitive with fast food. The restaurant’s outlets will have different price structures depending on the neighborhood.

Courtesy of Everytable

A restaurant chain that charges twice as much for a meal in one location than in another? You would think this is a recipe for angry customers.

Corn Everytable in Los Angeles is betting that this will prove to be a successful business model, while also serving an important side of the social mission.

Here’s the concept behind the new chain: Customers walk in and take a take-out container of healthy, pre-cooked meals prepared by chefs who have previously worked at some of Los Angeles and New York’s top restaurants. They can reheat meals in the microwave at restaurants or take them home. And everything is affordable, although the price changes depending on the neighborhood. The goal is to make nutritious food more accessible to everyone.

The first location opened this summer in low-income south Los Angeles. The next one will open soon in an affluent area of ​​downtown LA, with outlets planned in other parts of the city. Each location will have the same exact menus and decorations, but with different pricing plans.

Founders Sam Polk and David Foster spoke with Robin Young about Here Now at NPR West in Culver City, California. Highlights from their conversation follow, edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

On using their Wall Street experience

California Cobb Everytable Salad Plate

Courtesy of Everytable


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California Cobb Everytable Salad Plate

Courtesy of Everytable

Sat : In 2013, I founded a non-profit organization called Groceryships, which works at the intersection of poverty and diet-related health issues like obesity and diabetes. The grocery store is located in South Los Angeles, where the per capita income is $ 13,000 per year. He helps parents who live in food deserts – places with very little fresh food and tons of fast food. It helps parents get healthy through a program that includes nutrition education, healthy cooking schools, fresh produce, and emotional support groups. We kept hearing from many parents we worked with. Things like, “I need a quick bite to eat and I don’t have a lot of money. So I go to McDonald’s.

I’m a former hedge fund trader, and David is a former private equity guy, and we basically pulled out our pencils and tried to come up with a concept for a company that would make healthy food that would be affordable for families in neighborhoods that The grocery store was in use.

On the difference between the two restaurant locations

David: At the South LA site, we offer meals on average for less than $ 4. We have a variety of items like Kale Caesar Salad and California Cobb Salad, as well as hot items like Puebla Tinga Chicken and Jamaican Jerk Chicken. We offer children’s meals at $ 2.95. The model for this store is to try to have prices that are affordable for the local community, but also prices that are competitive with what else exists – like fast food. … The second location opens to the city center, which is about 3 km from the first, but the demographics there are quite different. It’s more of a professional audience. This place will offer the same meals, but for around $ 7.95 on average. We think the price is really competitive with what is downtown like Whole Foods and Sweet Green and Tender Greens. These are great, healthy, and quick options that usually cost anywhere from $ 10 to $ 12. So we think that even if it’s double the price [as the same meal you can buy at the South LA store] only a few kilometers away, it still offers great relative value.

Everytable opened its first location in South Los Angeles on July 30.

Courtesy of Everytable


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Courtesy of Everytable


Everytable opened its first location in South Los Angeles on July 30.

Courtesy of Everytable

On the relationship between the two restaurants

David: Each store is designed to be profitable individually. At $ 4 per meal in South LA, we don’t make a lot of money with every meal sold. But if we get enough people to come out – and we’re already seeing great traction – it will actually pay off. The downtown location will also pay off. Together, they are therefore part of this endeavor to improve access. The more expensive location will help finance the growth of new locations in both markets.

Have a central kitchen

Everytable’s meals are prepared in a central kitchen, then packaged in take-out containers. Customers can reheat them and eat them out at the restaurant or take them home for later.

Courtesy of Everytable


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Everytable’s meals are prepared in a central kitchen, then packaged in take-out containers. Customers can reheat them and eat them out at the restaurant or take them home for later.

Courtesy of Everytable

Sat : The central kitchen produces a large amount of healthy food. We have two chefs: One is the former chef of Cirque, one of the biggest restaurants in the country. The other was the chef at a Culver City restaurant called A-Frame which was super hot and super local. They create these dishes like Jamaican jerk chicken and blackened fish that are… mind blowing, then at the police station pack them in take out containers. And that’s a really simple but essential economic overview. A standard restaurant is 2,500 square feet, has 10 to 15 employees and a fully equipped kitchen. Because of all these additional costs, they cannot sell healthy food at a low price. But we open 500 to 750 square foot stores, and we don’t need a commercial kitchen because all the food is already in containers. For this reason, we only need two employees in the store. So all of those savings are passed on to customers, who have those delicious, healthy meals that you can get faster than walking into a fast food restaurant.

On the evolution of attitudes towards fast food

Sat : We actually think there is a misconception surrounding this issue that people in Southern LA have access to fast food in large part because it is the only affordable solution. Through our work with Groceryships, and now with the incredible sales we’ve seen in the first month of Everytable, we know there is a high demand for healthy and nutritious food within the South Central community.

What people think of as healthy food is actually what people just called food 50 years ago. And by that I mean the cultural traditions of incredible cuisine that have been around for centuries. And we bring them back. We go to the communities that we are trying to serve and ask them, “What meals from your culinary tradition do you like, but don’t see being conveniently priced right now?” And then we create these meals and sell them for a really attractive price. [Interviewer’s note: Of course, there are small pockets of great little joints all over South LA that are making great food, but not enough right now to compete with fast food.]

This interview was broadcast on Here Now, a public radio show from NPR and WBUR in Boston.


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