Working together in the grocery business for more than seven years, Chelsey Hall and Leslie Roth became great friends. Soon after their seventh year in “the business,” Leslie decided to go back to school. In order to support her income as a single mother, she began a meal prep service for her friends and family. It was this twist of fate that eventually led to the creation of Muscle Grub.
“Leslie called me one day and asked if I’d be interested in opening a meal delivery service with her,” Chelsey said. “Without hesitating, I jumped on board and we immediately began our business from my kitchen at home. We both have such a passion for food, family and fitness that we couldn’t wait to share our way of clean eating with everyone in Bakersfield!”
Gaining some momentum after six months of hard work, the two entrepreneurs asked Chelsey’s mom, Amy, and their good friend, Marcie, to join their team. In January 2015 (one year later), they officially opened the doors of their current location – complete with a commercial kitchen and storefront – where they cook up to 700 meals per day.
“As our business began to take off, I remember being concerned about how we’d keep up with the demand,” said Chelsey. “Thankfully for us, we’ve got a great team of 14 employees who work extremely hard. They’re all just as passionate about providing wholesome, healthy food to our community and that passion goes a long way.”
Muscle Grub is the first clean meal prep service in Bakersfield offering six weeks of rotating menus with over 100 different menu items so their customers never get tired of eating the same thing. One thing’s for sure, coming up with so many clean menu items can be challenging so a strong attention to detail is key.
“Our biggest hurdle is to find the correct substitutions, as we don’t use sugar, salt, preservatives, any type of grain, or dairy products. We specialize in the Paleo diet, so everything takes careful planning and multiple spreadsheets,” Chelsey says with a laugh.
Now up and running for almost a year, the team says their largest challenge in being a start-up is that there is not a lot of profit in food so it takes some time and experience to control the profit margin. “It’s a struggle – a constant battle between spending money on the high quality of our food and the labor it takes to create it. Thankfully, we all feel like we’re getting the hang of it now.”
One of the ways Muscle Grub plans to conserve money (and the environment) in the future is to implement a recycling program for the BPA-free containers their food is served in. “We order our containers through Jordano’s (#26215 Pactiv VERSAtainer® 1/150 ct.). They’re extremely convenient as they’re microwavable and stackable so our customers can store their food in the refrigerator until they’re ready to eat. We currently ask our customers to recycle them in their blue recycle bins at home,” said Chelsey.
They also don’t throw anything away. Everything left over or not sold goes to the Mission of Kern County twice a week, where the women of Muscle Grub also volunteer their time.
Team Muscle Grub is an amazing success story, and their business model of offering both deliveries and a walk-in storefront is a winner. When they first started, they had one driver who went out every Sunday and Wednesday to make deliveries. Now they have six drivers who deliver to homes on Sundays and Wednesdays, and to offices Mondays and Thursdays. Currently, deliveries account for about 40 percent of their business and walk-ins are becoming more prevalent than they ever anticipated.
In order to keep up with their growing popularity, Muscle Grub relies heavily on the knowledgeable team at Jordano’s Foodservice. “From day one, Jordano’s has been there for us. Being first-time business owners, we had a lot to learn. They’ve given us a big jump start in this industry by sharing the advice from other restaurant owners and bringing unique ideas to the table,” said Chelsey. “There hasn’t been a question that our Account Executive, Ernie Veloz, hasn’t been able to answer. He is literally our right-hand man. We truly feel like Jordano’s believes in us and that makes a world of difference. We reached out to other foodservice companies but didn’t get that same vibe from any of them, so we’re forever thankful for Jordano’s.”
For more information about Muscle Grub, visit www.eatmusclegrub.com or find them on Facebook.
By Kiersta Halseth, Assistant Director of Marketing, Jordano’s Foodservice