Fitlife Wants Bigger Piece of Prepared Meals Pie
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.