A new innovative program that aims to create a secondary revenue stream for local restaurants has launched in response to COVID-19.
Earlier this month, businesswoman Ashleigh Ferran founded In Good Company. The Carmel Valley corporation teams with restaurants from around the region to create chef-crafted meals that are then frozen and delivered in sustainable packaging directly to customers’ doorsteps. The meals feed two to three people each, said Ferran, and cost $35 a piece.
For the first meal drop, In Good Company has teamed up with five food places: Juniper and Ivy in Little Italy, Galaxy Taco in La Jolla, Viewpoint Brewing Co. in Del Mar, Ranch 45 in Solana Beach, and LuckyBolt Kitchen + Takeaway in Sorrento Valley. The meals include a beef lasagna by Ranch 45, a pork belly shepherd’s pie by Juniper and Ivy, a winter pot pie by LuckyBolt and braised pork and beans by Galaxy Taco. The company plans to team up with different chefs throughout the county every month, Ferran said, with the menu changing each time.
If all goes as planned, In Good Company hopes to sell more than 25,000 meals a month by the end of 2021. This equates to an annual revenue of $9 million, she said.
“This is an idea we built just over the last couple of months, really as a response to a lot of the impact and changes in behaviors we were seeing due to COVID-19,” said Ferran, a native San Diegan who also founded Keko Box in 2019, a reusable dishware service company that works with food businesses. “These are handpicked groups of initial partners who really stand out in the San Diego food community as restaurants that make incredible food. I wanted to pick a group that has a variety of different food types to provide diversity to our customers. The chefs had fun in picking dishes that really freeze easily and well, which is one of the most important parts of the new model: that the dishes are prepared in restaurants by chefs but frozen prior to being delivered to clients.”
Much like Keko Box, there is also a sustainability angle to In Good Company, said Ferran.
All meals are delivered in reusable stainless-steel containers, she said, that can be popped into an oven as is, so there is no packaging waste. The deliveries come without ice packs or other single-use items, which is why the client needs to be available to receive the delivery, she said, to put it in the freezer immediately. Once the food is consumed, In Good Company returns to pick up the containers, which are then taken back to the Carmel Valley warehouse for proper sanitizing and reusing during the next meal drop, she said.
And, because all In Good Company sales are through pre-orders, there is no food waste, said Ferran. Clients can go on the In Good Company site and pick any combination of meals, she said, with delivery being free when three or more are purchased.
“We don’t see this as a replacement or competition to take-out or to-go options,” Ferran said. “This is a replacement for the likes of Stouffer’s mac and cheese in the freezer aisle. It gives people easy, real fresh made food you can pull out of the freezer for an easy meal without having to do a whole meal from scratch. This is chef and restaurant quality food using topnotch ingredients, most sourced locally in San Diego.”
Juniper and Ivy is one of the initial participating restaurants. Chef Anthony Wells, who helms the kitchen there, said the In Good Company partnership aligned well with the eatery’s earth-friendly ethos as well as the industry’s climate, which has been heavily affected by the pandemic.
“Given the current environment, many of our guests will likely continue to prefer takeout methods for months to come, and In Good Company gives us another fantastic, convenient, safe avenue to do that,” he said. “If someone needs a simple, last-minute meal, they can reach into the freezer knowing that what’s in that reusable container uses only the best locally-sourced ingredients and was prepared and packaged with as much care as would have been given had they joined us at the restaurant.”