Q&A With Everytable Founders Sam Polk & David Foster

Back when I first moved to Los Angeles, I attended USC for grad school and was stunned at the limited food options. Now, Everytable is open by USC with affordable and healthy cuisine for everyone from the student-on-the-go to the hungry family of five. I recently got to visit the socially-conscious concept’s lovely space on West 23rd St and Everytable has so many delicious meals available for $4, including the Kale Chicken Caesar Salad, the Puebla Chicken Tinga, and the Spicy Mexi-Cali (my new favorite meals).

Now, here’s the neat thing about Everytable: David Foster (former private equity executive) and Sam Polk (Groceryships, For the Love of Money) founded the brand and it’s totally neighborhood-driven. The fresh meals (designed by Executive Chef Craig Hopson, previously of Le Cirque) celebrate the local cuisine and flavors of the neighborhood, and their prices are determined according to the neighborhoods they serve. While prices differ from location-to-location for the same dishes, the food is always affordable for the neighborhood. Everytable is the first for-profit business to implement variable pricing as a part of their social mission. Pretty cool, eh? You can’t go wrong with yummy food for the right price.

David Foster and Sam Polk were kind enough to take some time out to answer some questions for us. Find out more about Everytable below!

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How did you come up with the idea and pricing model for Everytable?

Sam Polk: The idea for Everytable was inspired by the moms of Groceryships, a non-profit I founded in LA that works at the intersection of poverty and food-related illnesses like diabetes and obesity. We kept hearing from moms in the program that between taking care of their kids and working multiple jobs, they simply didn’t have time to cook. Although they were grateful for the fresh produce we were providing them, they often had no choice but to buy meals on-the-go, which in South LA, means unhealthy and processed fast food. We wanted to create a new healthy, affordable alternative for these moms. So, we began working on a new business model that uses a commissary kitchen and small grab-and-go storefronts to keep costs low, which allows us to price meals according to the neighborhoods the stores are located in. We recognized that the needs of each community are so different, so we thought, why not build a model where everyone can access the same meals at a price that makes sense for them? 
 
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How much do you take into consideration when it comes to neighborhood pricing?

David Foster: We started by creating a low-cost business model that would allow us to sell food at extraordinarily low prices, no matter where we’re located. We then took into consideration the incomes in the neighborhoods where we’d be opening locations in order to make sure our meals would be affordable for people in each community. For example, in South LA, the average per capita income is $13K and our meals average $4 or less. In our downtown LA location opening later this year, those exact same meals will average $8, which is still competitive in that market.

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What are some of your favorite meals offered by Everytable?

Sam Polk: Executive Chef Craig Hopson and Culinary Director Johnny Yoo have done an extraordinary job creating a menu that celebrates and is rooted in the cuisines and flavors of the South LA neighborhood. These dishes are wholesome, hearty and nutritious, and we really think there’s something that will appeal to everyone! Personally, I love the Puebla Chicken Tinga and the Vietnamese Chicken Salad.

What are your future goals for Everytable?

David Foster: Right now, our initial focus is on LA. In the future, we’re planning to expand to more neighborhoods in more markets that lack access to healthy food. Stores in food deserts are self-sustaining, while stores in more affluent areas help us grow. Each store is an important part of of the larger community that, together, is democratizing healthy food. 

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What’s next?

Sam Polk: Our next location in Downtown LA is opening later this year. Follow Everytable on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for updates! — attribute to Sam Polk

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