Be honest. There are times when you’re running late and have no time to fix dinner, you have time but your fridge is not inspiring you, or you simply just don’t feel like cooking. That’s the perfect time for takeout, right? But, if you are like me, takeout rarely meets your standards for healthy food; and if it does, it likely still requires standing in line at the busy dinner hour.
Enter entrepreneurs Colleen Callaway Eager and Mike Keuler. She is a 15-year corporate marketing whiz; he is a Frasca Restaurant-trained chef. They met while working at Whole Foods. Both are marinated in the natural food world and trained by the best.
The need for real-food grab-and-go meals was obvious to them, both parents of small children. So they formed GoBistro, a food company that provides healthy—that’s the key word—prepared dishes at retail locations and delivered to the office. Grab-and-Go is the fastest growing segment in the food industry.
“As a recently divorced mom of two, I would get frustrated when driving home from work and realized I had nothing in the fridge and there was no place to go for healthy takeout for me and the kids,” said Eager. “Someone suggested I talk to Mike. We discovered we have two halves of a business: he’s a fantastic chef and I’m great at marketing.”
As a startup company, they’ve forged relationships so far with three retail outlets to carry their products: Colorado Athletic Club at the Monaco and downtown locations, and at Pura Vida Fitness in Cherry Creek. They are working on expanding quickly, hoping eventually to be available in high density locales all over Colorado. Their vision is a drive-through where you can pick up meals ordered on the phone. Think a hearty breakfast before hitting the slopes, a healthy lunch between appointments, or a satisfying meal waiting for flights at DIA. And bachelors, take note: “Single guys are great customers,” said Eager. “Whenever I see a guy at the gym, I know he has old takeout and a jar of mayo in the fridge. Our fitness center customers are overwhelmingly ecstatic to have the option when there’s no time or place for good food.”
For moms, it’s a slam-dunk alternative. Providing good quality food for the family requires menu planning, shopping, reading labels, making healthy choices. With an occasional grab-and-go during the week, all that is taken care of when you pick up GoBistro. “I like to have options for the kids that are not chicken fingers,” said Eager. “My kids love potstickers; healthy food doesn’t have to be limiting and bland. When you add delicious sauces without a lot of oil, you can have the flair explosion kids love.” All GoBistro sauces come in separate compartments in the container so you can regulate portions. And by the way, the sturdy containers can be repurposed for sealing up leftovers or packing picnic food.
One of the most popular divisions of the business is office delivery. Christine Hayes, a real estate lawyer in the Wells Fargo Building downtown, said her firm orders GoBistro lunches frequently online for delivery right to the office. “It’s great,” said Hayes. “Everyone here loves the food, and I have referred Colleen to a lot to friends who have used her for small events. The food is so healthy and tastes so good that people enjoy serving it.”
Chef Mike prepares GoBistro meals from scratch at a commissary kitchen in Stapleton. He orders food from local purveyors who source from local and organic farms. There are no preservatives, added colors, artificial anything. Nada. Just real food. Meals are either salads—regular size with veggies or entree size with the option of grilled organic chicken, salmon, flank steak or pork loin—or sandwiches. One salad I love is the curried sweet potato with raisins, carrots, chick peas, spinach, kale and walnuts with date and apple cider vinaigrette on the side. I order it with a chicken breast. All salads are gluten-free. Sandwiches include a roasted turkey breast with brie, arugula and a dollop of apricot-pear chutney between a baguette. There’s an Italian sandwich with prosciutto and mozzarella and, of course, a grilled veggie sandwich. Pricing is comparable or less than you would find at a good restaurant.
“We are perfect for the Colorado lifestyle,” said Eager. “We want to catch on and gain a following. We’re ready for this!”
BIO: Claudia Carbone is an award-winning journalist based in Denver and a regular contributor to Colorado Expression. She is a conscious eater who eschewed red meat 38 years ago in favor of a healthy organic lifestyle.
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