Pretty soon, your mid-day kale salad won’t just help you power through an afternoon of meetings—it could also help a family in need receive some healthy lunches of their own.
At least, that’ll be the case if you go to Everytable on your lunch break. Los Angeles’ newest healthy fast-casual restaurant brand, which just launched this weekend in South LA, was created to bring affordable (and seriously delish) healthy fare to food deserts throughout the city.
Everytable is the first fast casual restaurant to address the lack of healthy options for those living in LA’s food deserts.
The genius part? They’ll soon be coming to health-crazed, higher-income neighborhoods, too, and adopting a sliding scale pricing policy—so areas where people don’t think twice about spending $16 on a salad will pay more for the same dish than those where a $5 meal is considered a luxury. The more dishes sold in total, the more neighborhoods in need can be served.
“Everytable is about solving a major social problem in a way that everybody can be a part of,” says Sam Polk, the brand’s co-founder. “You know your purchase is helping advance this company’s mission of putting healthy food into places that don’t [normally] have access.”
A former Wall Street trader, Polk quit his job to launch another food-focused project, Groceryships, in 2013—a non-profit that equips mothers in impoverished neighborhoods with nutrition education, support, and healthy ingredients to take home. It was through talking with these moms that Polk and his business partner, David Foster (a fellow ex-finance guy who went on to work for Groceryships), got the idea for Everytable.
“We were hearing all the parents say things like, ‘I’m a single mom, I’ve got four kids and two jobs… this produce you’re giving us is great, but I don’t have a ton of time to cook,” he says. “David and I started trying to conceptualize a business that would allow us to bring healthy food into these neighborhoods at prices lower than McDonalds.” (Not that the fast food giants aren’t finally trying to be healthier themselves.)
They enlisted two hotshot chefs—Craig Hopson, formerly of Le Cirque, and A-Frame alum Johnny Yoo—to create a menu of hot, cold, and kids’ dishes that reflect LA’s diverse cultures, from a Vietnamese-inspired salad to Jamaican jerk chicken to the quintessential California cobb. Everything’s made from whole, locally sourced ingredients, with little to no added sugar, and no preservatives. There are also plenty of meatless and gluten-free options. (I found it all to be off-the-charts tasty.)
What people think of as ‘healthy food’ is what people just thought of as ‘food’ 50 years ago.
“Most of our dishes came from recommendations of the moms in Groceryships, and even from their specific recipes,” says Polk. (One of the org’s staffers helped the chefs perfect Everytable’s Pozole Rojo.) “It came out of this understanding that every culture has a long history of healthy, delicious cuisine. What people think of as ‘healthy food’ is what people just thought of as ‘food’ 50 years ago.”
While each Everytable location will have the exact same menu and ingredients, dishes will be priced around $4 in lower-income neighborhoods, and around $8—still way below the fast-casual norm—in areas where people can easily afford to pay more.
Everything’s made out of a central kitchen, which helps keep prices low, and the super-stylish stores will all be on the small size to reduce real estate and labor costs.
And they’re not stopping with South LA: A Downtown LA location is opening in November, and the founders are also scoping out storefronts in West Hollywood and Inglewood. By the end of 2017, Polk and Foster hope to have 10 Everytable stores across LA, in both food deserts and wellness oases like Brentwood and Venice—watch out, Sweetgreen and friends.
“Customers in South LA get an incredible value, customers on the Westside will get incredible value—this is a business that benefits everyone it touches,” says Polk. And that’s bound to make you feel better than all the kale in the world.
Everytable, 1101 W. 23rd St., Los Angeles, CA, 90007, everytable.com
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