Six years ago, Dre Slaman, 36, and G. Scott Brown, 44, decided they wanted to leave L.A. and move somewhere they considered creative. After weighing the options, the duo, who have a background in acting, decided Portland was the clear standout. But back then, the Rose City was missing something: a meal delivery service.
“We were looking for something to do exactly what we’re doing,” Slaman said of Farm to Fit, a meal delivery service she co-owns with Brown. “The closest thing we found was a place in Seattle that FedExed things to you in a really interesting package.”
The pair had limited experience in the niche market, but together they did have more than decade of restaurant and small business ownership to pull from.
Five years later, the locally-sourced meal delivery subscription service has expanded for the fourth time, setting up shop in a 3,600-square-foot warehouse in Northeast Portland.
The service is one of Portland’s meal delivery pioneers and has carved out a niche in what’s now a sea of national and local food delivery services. The service provides anywhere from three to seven days worth of low-calorie meals, and a variety of combinations in between.
“It’s meant for people who live a busy lifestyle, for convenience, also for dieters or for people who want to spend the rest of their life enjoying themselves,” Brown said. “When I think of that, I think of baby boomers and empty nesters.”
At an average cost of $12.50 a meal ($9 for weekly subscribers), the typical Farm to Fit customer is someone 35 to 45, living a busy life, but who wants to eat healthy, adventurous meals.
“We want someone to be able to eat our meals for the next 25 years and never get bored,” he said.
The new kitchen space in Northeast Portland will allow Farm to Fit to expand as its customer base grows.
Although still nearly two decades away from that goal, Slaman said they have loyal customers who have ordered weekly meals since day one five years ago. Slaman credits customer loyalty to differences between Farm to Fit and the competition — Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated and Gobble, to name a few.
“We have the potential to serve people every single meal, every single day,” she said. “On the flip side of that though, we’re flexible. You don't have to.”
Quick to point out Farm to Fit doesn’t offer fad-based meals — the paleo diet for example — Brown said they are aware food delivery itself is a fad.
“We don't like that,” he laughed.
But the duo does try to listen to customers and adjust meals as requested. That’s how the vegetarian option ended up on the menu last month.
With 275 subscribers, Farm to Fit sends out more than 10,000 meals a month. Those subscribers have grown consistently at 100% a year. And those numbers are expected to continue growing especially once the service area expands into Salem next year.
A passion project, Slaman and Brown continue to change their business plan, adjusting to the customer and anticipating the market.
“When I became pregnant and we had a kid, that’s when we started realizing, wait, this is the market we haven’t tapped into,” Slaman said, adding their 2-year-old daughter Pierce loves eating Farm to Fit meals. “It’s the coolest thing to watch her enjoy the food.”
But it also inspired her to seek out the family market — meals for families who may not have the time to cook as often as they’d like.
“I love cooking and I haven't cooked in a really long time religiously, not when I have a chef cooking for me,” she said.