Flavours inspired by Los Angeles food culture, from Californian BBQ to Vietnamese and Cajun flavours, with forays into Mexican and even Mediterranean cuisines? Plus veggie, vegan and gluten-free options? After opening last summer in South LA with its “classical” menu, Everytable is already set to inaugurate three more venues: in Baldwin Hills, Downtown LA and Santa Monica. So, what’s so special about this eatery? The cheque: a dish of Jamaican smoked chicken and a beer costs ... well, it depends. On what? It would be more appropriate to ask “on whom.” The customer, of course! Or rather, which part of town he or she lives, works and eats in.
“Everytable is the first to bring a variable pricing model to the industry, which is a true game changer for people who previously couldn’t afford healthy food for themselves or their families," explains Sam Polk, CEO and Co-Founder of Everytable. "We’re excited about this model because it’s a win-win for all of our customers," he continues, "at each Everytable location you’re paying less than you would at nearby restaurants, but you’re also playing a critical role in making sure healthy, affordable food is made available in other communities where it’s desperately needed.”
It all began three years ago when Sam, fresh from a career in finance, set up a non profit organisation called Groceryships. “The idea and passion for Everytable was first inspired by the moms of Groceryships, a nonprofit I founded in LA that works at the intersection of poverty and food-related illnesses like diabetes and obesity. We kept hearing from moms in the program that between taking care of their kids and working multiple jobs, they simply didn't have time to cook. Although they were grateful for the fresh produce Groceryships provided, they often had no choice but to buy meals on-the-go, which in South LA, means unhealthy and processed fast food. We wanted to create a new healthy, affordable alternative for these moms,” says Sam. In the meantime, David Foster, an equity expert, had joined Sam’s company. Together, they came up with the idea of a new business model: this marked the start of Everytable.
With its slogan, “Every body. Every block. Everytable,” this restaurant is not only engaged in providing nourishment to the body, but the community as well. The model works like this: the restaurant serves take-away food prepared by top notch chefs – professionals who previously worked in the most exclusive restaurants of Los Angeles and New York, starting from the former chef of Le Cirque, certainly one of the best in the country. Chef Jessica Spear recently joined Everytable to head the culinary team and continue creating delicious, locally-inspired dishes. Nothing but well-balanced healthy food. The prices of these dishes? Competitive. But they do vary from district to district.
In fact Everytable is designed to operate as a restaurant chain. The Baldwin Hills restaurant will officially open its doors on Saturday, 4 March, and the other two new locations will follow by the end of the month. The menus and decor are identical, all that differs is the cost: a meal in South LA is less than $4, while the new Baldwin Hills location will also offer healthy grab-and-go meals as low as $4, but two miles away, the professionals living in the Downtown LA area will pay twice as much.
In Santa Monica as well, the average meal will cost $8. The owners have no doubts about it: their prices (prices at this location will average $8) are still competitive for the quality of food being served and the clientele able to afford it will be happy to pay these prices. Having said this, the venue in the 'poor' location is not intended to operate at a loss: there will be profits (mainly because it will attract a good deal of custom), but with modest margins to be offset by the better margins in the 'rich' locations, thanks to which it will be possible to open new venues of both types. The kitchen is centralised to reduce costs and, thanks to Sam and David’s vision, over 50 investors have already decided to back Everytable.
“The unique variable pricing model we developed is built to scale, so 10 years from now, our goal is not only to open dozens of Everytable locations throughout California, but also to expand our presence nationwide – especially in other food deserts – in order to truly make healthy food accessible for all. We’d love to see others in the space come up with solutions to help solve crucial food justice issues."
“We hope that this message spreads to other restaurateurs and business leaders who will be inspired to make a positive change,” confirms David. “We’ve been thrilled with the feedback from residents and customers in the community, and local word-of-mouth has also played a huge role in our success. Our performance is strongly ahead of our original targets and we’ve served tens and tens of thousands of meals since opening. We’re humbled by the community’s response to our opening and are excited to expand Everytable across LA!”
“Yes, we’re excited to be opening three new locations across Los Angeles,” concludes Sam. “Our mission from the start has been to democratise healthy food: we believe healthy food is a human right, so we’re changing the food system to one that works for all, not just a few.”