19 Feb How a Healthy Menu Can Keep Costs Low and Customers Happy
This week we sat down with one of the Bay Area’s healthiest and most innovative restaurants. Lean Feast is a shining example of a healthy restaurant establishment that capitalizes on current technology, food and health trends to make a sustainable profit.
They use local, seasonal and simple ingredients to keep their healthy menu affordable, nutritious and delicious. They leverage technology and a franchising model to maximize efficiency and keep operational costs low. And finally, their menu is easily understood with educational nutrition facts at the forefront.
Health and Food Trends
There’s no single image that comes to mind when one considers the cuisine of the Bay Area. It is incredibly diverse, serving up some of the best ethnic foods outside of their home regions. It is also home to some of the most cutting-edge dining establishments and chefs in the world.
No matter what type of restaurant you own, you’ll have to keep up with the demands of your customers. Last year the SF Bay Area was named the healthiest city in the country – just one example of the many health and food trends local restaurant owners must stay up-to-date with in order to satisfy their customers’ dynamic expectations.
Following top healthy food trends is an excellent place to start for restaurants that want to attract more health-conscious consumers. No matter where you turn, an emphasis on health, clean eating, and simple recipes can be found, allowing California’s top-quality ingredients to shine. More recently, transparency with regards to operational sustainability, green initiatives, nutritional facts and sourcing of ingredients has also become a leading priority.
One Bay Area restaurant is doing everything it can to minimize their carbon footprint and food waste – and seeing profitable results! While another, Lean Feast, has turned its attention towards the convergence of health and food trends to give its customers wholesome, nutritious, and affordable meals. Last week, I sat down with Lean Feast’s co-owners, Jason and Mike, to chat about all things health, profit, and efficiency!
When I arrive I instantly note the health and fitness focused theme throughout the restaurant. From colorful signage to a fully stocked grab-and-go section of high-quality health supplements, I instantly feel excited to peek into what Lean Feast is serving. Their Chipotle-style set up allows for a beautiful presentation of fresh proteins, starches and plenty of vegetables. Their line moves quickly with some customers buying 10 pre-made meals at a time while others come in for just one.
Jason walks me through the kitchen pointing out exactly how cleanly and efficiently it runs. He explains to me that because of the lack of storage space, working with Cheetah has been crucial. Jason is the type of Cheetah user who minimizes food waste and makes the most of his small storage space by ordering almost daily. He points to Cheetah’s 6 days of delivery service and tight delivery windows as game changers.
With kombuchas and CBD drinks in hand, we sit down to chat and Jason tells me of their origin story. He was living in Hawaii and working in the restaurant industry when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Our interview takes a small pause as I soak this in – this is the same cancer that I also had. Jason was always a healthy eater although he often worked at taprooms and hearty Hawaiian restaurants where the beer and mac salad flowed freely.
Upon returning to California to recover and rebuild, he decided that franchising one of his favorite healthy restaurants would be a way to create access to nutritious food for people all over the Bay. His best friend and business partner, Mike, was thrilled to have Jason join this endeavor. They added two more from their family, Mike’s sister, Jennifer, and Jason’s girlfriend, Jessica, and founded Aloha Managing Partners, the LLC under which they grow their two business locations.
Health at the Forefront
Mike notes that access to healthy food for people all around the Bay Area is a huge motivator for him, stating, “80% of your health and fitness is about what you eat.” However, many people don’t eat healthily because a) healthy food is too expensive, b) healthy food is not available, or c) they simply don’t know how to eat healthy. Another Cheetah customer, Ben’s Fast Food is tackling these as a fast food restaurant, but Lean Feast is taking a little different approach.
So, why is Lean Feast such a stellar example of operating a health-conscious business? Eating here is not only a nourishing experience, but an educational one as well. With transparent ingredients and nutritional facts proudly painted on their walls, customers can easily learn which ingredients provide which nutrients, equipping them to make more informed health-conscious decisions in the future.
Simple Ingredients, Happy Customers
When you go to Lean Feast, you know that whichever ingredient you pick for your meal, you are selecting only that ingredient. If it’s the spinach- it’s just spinach. No butter, no oil. If you opt for their delicious sweet potato mash, you’ll be getting just that- high quality sweet potato, mashed.
Mike recalls a customer that called in asking for the recipe for their sweet potato mash. He had trouble explaining that there was no secondary ingredient – the dish is simply delicious sweet potato.
This brings us to the topic of ingredient selection. When you are putting your ingredients front and center without obscuring taste with oil or additives, you need to carry the freshest of everything. They both remark on how their chicken comes in daily, their vegetables are in season and available, and proteins vary too by what is freshest at that moment. This simple approach to meal creation keeps costs low and customers healthy!
Keeping Costs Low and Profitability High
How else does Lean Feast keep costs down and make healthy food accessible to the public? They leverage technology to determine their stock levels and help them order most efficiently. They encourage people to place orders for multiple meals that they can keep stocked and eat throughout the week. Knowing the flow of their clientele as well as the capability of their distributor, Cheetah, keeps Lean Feast running at optimal efficiency.
Franchising has been an opportunity for them to utilize a lot of the framework already put in place by Lean Feast. This saves them on cost, helps them stay keyed in with healthy food trends in other regions, and allows them to scale more easily.
Their biggest tip for following health food trends – listen to your customers! Ask what people want and work to provide it. Mike and Jason have done exactly this, hundreds of times. By getting regular feedback from their consumers, they change up their menu at will to meet ever-changing demand.
Six of seven days Mike and Jason eat exclusively the healthy and balanced meals Lean Feast serves up. They recommend the same to others. Though your diet is notably more important than exercise as it pertains to overall health, the owners are involved in fitness as well. In addition to having local partnerships with gyms and fitness studios, they sponsor athletes to compete in mixed martial arts. They integrate with the fitness community in and around Dublin to take their business to the next level.
Lean Feast is a prime example of a profitable, healthy restaurant establishment. They use simple ingredients, leverage technology alongside current health and food trends, and make their menu nutritionally transparent. As the two dynamic owners continue to see their business grow post-Covid, they are excited about opening more locations to bring affordable, healthy, and accessible food to all those searching for it!
- Customers Want to eat healthy, but can’t due to
- Lack of availability
- Lack of affordability
- Lack of knowledge
- Lean Feast is tackling all of these
- Educate yourself and your customers
- Listen to your customers’ demands!
- Stay current with health and food trends
- Include nutritional facts – everywhere!
- Keep Costs Low and Food Healthy
- Embrace technology and operational efficiency
- Source locally and seasonally
- Keep your menu simple
- Use a local distributor
- Make Your Food Available
- Expand and Scale
- Embrace meal planning and delivery
- Demand for healthy food will keep your restaurant full
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.