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Fitlife Wants Bigger Piece of Prepared Meals Pie


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Fitlife Foods sells prepared meals from its retail store, and also delivers.

 

Here’s the latest entry on the prepared meal scene—Tampa-based Fitlife Foods, which operates stores that sell nothing but already cooked meals ready for customers to pick up or to have delivered.

Fitlife spent more than six years improving its business model, its founder says, and is now rolling out a franchise program in Florida. “We have put time and capital into our stores to ensure our method is proven,” said founder David Osterweil, an avid runner and former Outback Steakhouse executive. Fitlife has opened more than 14 corporate-owned locations and has one test franchise partner. The initial goal is 15 new franchised store locations in the state.

One of Fitlife’s biggest hurdles was figuring out how to reduce waste and spoilage from freshly prepared meals, which are made in a central kitchen and then sent to stores right away. “Once it hits the shelf, you’re on a clock and it’s ticking,” he says, with only about five days to sell everything. “We really have that down to low single digits in terms of what spoilage and waste looks like.”

But first came lots of trial and error. “We had to apply a lot of math to it. We brought in some great data intelligence folks,” he said, for analysis of the central kitchen's practices. “We love problems. You embrace them, you work through them. If you don’t love solving problems you’re probably not in the right business."

Fitlife’s Plant City Culinary Center, where all meals are prepared and cooked, is also set for expansion. Once Fitlife reaches its unit goal in the Southeast, it will think about the next phase, which will also require building a centralized kitchen for meal preparation. 

Alison Domino, formerly the Tampa Bay market director for Fitlife, is the new director of franchising and business development. Initial investment ranges from $326,000 to $418,000. 

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is staff writer at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nanweingartner.
 

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