Houston, Texas-based healthy fresh-prepared foods' retailer My Fit Foods plans to open its first store in California at 1005 Pacific Coast Highway in the coastal Southern California city of Hermosa Beach and a second unit at 2543-G Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance, with more stores to come, Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned.
The Hermosa Beach store (pictured at top), which is currently being renovated, is about a quarter-mile away from the Fresh & Easy Express market on the Pacific Coast Highway, which was opened by Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market on January 11, 2012.
Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market puts a major merchandising emphasis on ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh-prepared foods in both its standard format (10,000 square-foot) grocery markets and in its smaller (3,000 square-foot) Fresh & Easy Express stores, five of which have been opened to date, all in Southern California.
|A view from the Pacific Coast Highway of the My Fit Foods store.|
A Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondent has been monitoring the progress of the planned My Fit Foods store at 1025 Pacific Coast Highway since early January 2012. Three weeks ago the sign depicted in the photograph at top wasn't on the building's facade, for example.
No date has yet been set for the store's opening, according to our sources. But a sign on the building says it's "opening soon." The building's renovation has been steadily progressing over the last few weeks and looks to be nearly completed.
My Fit Foods hasn't publicly announced the planned location or the store's opening date.
My Fit Foods, which describes itself as a healthy, fresh, pre-packaged takeout meal company and retailer, is currently hiring "front of the house" employees (store clerks) for both its first store in Hermosa Beach and the second unit in Torrance. Starting pay is $10 hour. The retailer also hires what it calls nutritional consultants for each store.
Texas-based My Fit Foods offers a variety of healthy fresh-prepared meals, side dishes, breakfast foods and snacks for takeout.
The foods are prepared in the company's corporate kitchens - and in some cases in-store - then packaged for sale in the stores.
The fresh-made foods, 95% of which the company says are gluten-free, are prepared using lean protein, are low in carbohydrates, and contain heart healthy fats. There are currently about 60 items on the menu, with more being added regularly.
In addition to the fresh-prepared foods, The retailer offers a line of vitamins and nutritional supplements under the My Fit Foods' brand, which is sells in the stores. The vitamins and supplements are part of the overall healthy foods/healthy eating/healthy lifestyle niche the company is focused on.
Besides the standard storefront retailing of the fresh-prepared foods, My Fit Foods also offers shoppers various customized healthy meal plans which they can sign up for, letting the company do the meal planning and food preparation for them. Among those plans is what My Fit Foods' calls its "21-Day Challenge," a three-week, five-meal-a-day program it says will start consumers on the road to healthier eating and better nutrition.
Shoppers can also order the fresh-prepared meals and other foods online, for pickup at the stores.
My Fit Foods recently launched what it calls a corporate wellness division, through which it's offering to provide healthy eating and nutritional benefits to companies, using its fresh-prepared food products as the centerpiece of the program.
The fresh-prepared foods retailer - it currently has about 34-stores in four cities in Texas and recently opened its first store in Arizona (in Scottsdale) and has plans to launch into Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma in addition to California - operates on a mixed corporate-owned/franchise model. The majority of the stores are owned by independent operators. The company provides the culinary/product development and the prepared foods, along with merchandising, marketing and other services under the joint-venture arrangement.
In addition to the franchised standalone stores, My Fit Foods is also pursuing the supermarket channel as a source of distribution for its fresh-prepared foods - but not in the traditional on-the-shelf manner.
Instead, the fresh-prepared foods' retailer has a deal with Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B to put "My Fit Foods" healthy meal kiosks in selected stores. At present H-E-B is testing the kiosks in about eight supermarkets in Texas.
The supermarket kiosk concept is something My Fit Foods is interested in expanding into California, Nevada, Arizona and elsewhere where it plans to launch, signing up a chain in each region to test with like it's doing with H-E-B in Texas.
The fresh-prepared foods retailer's focus at present in the Golden State is Southern California. But its also interesting in opening stores in Northern California.
In Nevada the initial market region focus is metro Las Vegas. In Arizona it's the Phoenix metropolitan region.
Tesco's Fresh & Easy has its 182 stores in California (138 units), Arizona (24 units) and Nevada (20 units).
Houston-based My Fit Foods was founded in 2006 by certified nutritionist-entrepreneur Mario Mendias, who also spent 19-years' working as a personal trainer before starting the company.
In 2007 Mendias partnered with restaurant industry veteran Anthony Milton, and the two partners and majority-owners launched My Fit Foods as a fresh-prepared foods' retail chain, focused on healthy eating and nutrition.
In describing the start of My Fit Foods Mendias says: "No matter how much I preached to the clients I trained every week that 80% of your results, in regards to your health and fitness goals, are derived from what you are eating, what I found wasn't that they were not listening to me. It was simply that most people just didn’t have the time, knowledge or support to stay consistent with a clean and healthy diet. So, it was simple to me, I decided to do all the healthy cooking for them, and My Fit Foods was born out of my tiny apartment kitchen on Memorial drive in Houston, Texas."
Founder Mendias says his plans are to grow the fresh-prepared foods chain throughout the western U.S., after having what he says is a good reception in Texas.
My Fit Foods is fairly aggressive from a promotional standpoint in Texas. For example, the fresh-prepared foods retailer uses its Facebook page regularly, promoting the stores, its fresh-prepared foods, and holding contests and other promotional activities aimed at customers and potential new customers alike.
Additionally, My Fit Foods, which has as its motto, "Eat Fit. Live Fit, just went live today with a redesigned website.
There's no shortage of retailers of various formats offering prepared foods for takeout in Southern California, including those offering healthy options - grocers, mass-merchandisers, club stores, convenience stores, food kiosks, restaurants, food trucks and others.
The franchise model My Fit Foods works on though could help it in competing in the food mecca that is Southern California because under such a system the independent owner-operators share in the financial investment, bearing most of the upfront costs, while the company earns an income stream from providing the concept, culinary development, food, merchandising and marketing to the franchise owners.
But the independent owner-operators' success (or failure) is My Fit Foods' success (or failure) as well, so its a symbiotic relationship, both operationally and financially.
My Fit Foods' ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat takeout foods appear to be popular in the four cities in Texas where it has its stores - Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio - based on conversations we've had with customers of some of those stores.
Much of the success of the stores also depends on how strong of a relationship the owner-operators build with customers and potential customers, something independents can be good at when they have their own money on the line. Key to that is also the quality of support they get from the corporate folks.
My Fit Foods wants to open numerous stores throughout Southern California, as well as move into Northern California, using the model it's been following in Texas since 2007, which is to focus on cities and neighborhoods that best fit the healthy, upscale takeout foods' customer demographic and lifestyle.
The company is also in a major growth phase, which is why its expanding into California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma, according to founder Mendias.
January 10, 2012: Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood: Second of Seven Fresh & Easy Express Stores Opens Tomorrow in Hermosa Beach, California
December 20, 2012: Hermosa Beach, California Fresh & Easy Express Taking Shape For January 11, 2012 Opening
December 13, 2011: Welcome to the (Eclectic) Neighborhood: Hermosa Beach, California Fresh & Easy Express Set to Open Jan. 11, 2012
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