Restaurant Concepts Serving Up Social Good

Restaurant Concepts Serving Up Social Good

Restaurant Concepts Serving Up Social Good 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

We look for inspiration and innovation in all service sectors of the restaurant industry, but of recent we’ve noticed a few who are making a name for themselves by disrupting the foodservice scene in a different kind of way. Oftentimes, it’s technology or design that catches the headlines for restaurant concepts, and while those are also elements of these innovators, the consumer is the driver for their social mission.

Everytable

Co-founders Sam Polk and David Foster wanted to make healthy food affordable to every community. Together they created, Everytable, a grab-and-go food concept which offers meals made from fresh, wholesome, locally sourced ingredients with no added preservatives or sugars, and meatless and gluten free alternatives too.

Each meal is not priced on the ingredients sourced, but rather based on income level of the communities they serve. For example, meals in South Los Angeles may cost $4, while in the affluent area of downtown Los Angeles they may be $8, taking into consideration that 40 percent of households in the South LA area earn $20,000 a year or less.

In addition to prices that are catering to the communities they serve, the menus are also tailored to celebrate the cultural richness of the neighborhoods they reside in. Customers have their choice of cold bowls like a Spicy Mexi-Cali Bowl or Vietnamese Chicken Salad, or hot bowls like Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Cajun Blackened Fish. Helping bring this high-quality cuisine to the masses are Executive Chef, Craig Hobson and Culinary Director, Jonny Yoo. Hobson has 20 years of culinary experience cooking at some of New York’s most acclaimed restaurants—Bacchanal and One if by Land, Two if By Sea, and mentored by legendary chef Alain Senderens. Yoo also carries with him an esteemed list of restaurants and notable chefs he’s served under including A-Frame’s, Roy Choi, and Sona’s, David Meyers.

At Everytable, customers can heat up the food there and take it to go, or sit down and dine in. A central kitchen is utilized to eliminate the need for an on premise kitchen, and food is delivered to the store daily. Having a central kitchen also means the concept can occupy smaller spaces like 500-700 sq. ft. and requires far less staff. Everytable isn’t only feeding these communities, but also helping to foster them by employing staff who are members of the communities and local nonprofits like the Right Way Foundation.

Although each store has been developed to be profitable, the two stores are actually somewhat needed to make this concept work. The higher prices in the downtown Los Angeles area help to offset the less expensive prices offered in South Los Angeles. Everytable plans to open 20 concepts in the next year bringing healthy food to “Every Body, Every Block, Everytable.”

Locol

In January, the dynamic and critically acclaimed chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson opened their first Locol restaurant in Watts California. The 3,000 sq. ft. space is located on Wilmington Avenue and East 103rd Street across from an elementary and a few blocks from the housing projects. Locol’s mission mirrors that of Everytable’s with the goal of bringing affordable and chef-quality food to underserved communities, while also pushing to help transform the fast food industry.

The source of inspiration for this restaurant concept came from Patterson’s work on the Cooking Project which teaches young people to cook, and Choi’s 2013 MAD talk about hunger where the two met. Although a somewhat unlikely duo for a partnership, their missions were aligned for the desire to reach more people.

At Locol food choices range from $2-$7 including burgs (burgers), bowls, foldies (tacos), and yotchays (sides like rice, slaw, and messy greens). Kiosks with tablets let diners browse the menu, place orders, and pay. The order is sent back to the kitchen, and your number is called when food is ready.

The dining area provides a young, urban vibe with the brand’s signature cartoon characters adorning the wall while rap music fills the air. Sleek subway tiles, stainless steel and tube lights gives a utilitarian feel, while freestanding plywood seating blocks and tables in the open dining area provide a casual balance. Much like, Everytable, Locol founders are interested in not just providing good food, but also creating career opportunities within the community by offering employment and culinary training for the staff.

With Choi’s experience in the food truck industry with Kogi BBQ it should come as no surprise that they’ve most recently evolved the restaurant concept to a food truck. The mobility of Locol allows them to take the concept even further and feed more people.

Takeaway: There was a time when top chef experiences could only be enjoyed by the affluent. Today though, a select group of well-known chefs are now lending their talents to serve underprivileged communities. These new chef-driven restaurant concepts are challenging what has become status quo in the fast food industry and raising the question of why can’t we make high-quality foods accessible and affordable for all.

Photo Credit: Everytable | Locol | Eater

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