it's just Smart.
Color Magazine - Issue 24-Dec2009 - Original Article
Author: Michelle McKenzie
Glynn Lloyd laughs and shakes his head when he talks about his original "business plan" for City Fresh Foods, the Roxbury-based food service provider.
"The thought was, people would order and we would deliver a lunch meal," said the founder and chief executive officer of City Fresh, noting that neighbors of the Dudley Street site didn't have a lot of food options and one of his partners had a relative who could cook a mean Caribbean menu.
It worked for awhile, and then the roof caved in. Literally.
Lloyd was forced to rebuild after a snowstorm, but a newspaper article about it led to his first client: Central Boston Elder Services, who was seeking ethnic meals for seniors.
"When we opened again, that became our base," Lloyd said.
In the 15 years since, City Fresh's business has grown at an average annual rate of about 15 percent and now delivers 8,000 meals daily to charter schools, day care centers, homebound elders and elder service agencies, including Central Boston Elder Services. It is the leading meal delivery food service provider in the Metropolitan Boston area.
And with a recent move across Roxbury to 77 Shirley St., into the former Dancing Deer Baking Company facility, Lloyd feels City Fresh now has the space to expand. Operationally, City Fresh, which has 64 employees, all from the surrounding community, now has room to more than double its business.
"Our philosophy is start small and do it right," said Lloyd, who has been a businessman since age 12 and is a Boston University grad. "If the market wants it, it will pull it from there."
What City Fresh Foods is doing right is delivering fresh, healthy meals, hot and cold, daily with its pioneering food service. On a recent Friday, tray after tray was filled with steaming rice, vegetables and pizza, then tightly sealed and packed in large insulated carry bags that were loaded into delivery vehicles. The meals also included fresh whole fruits and milk, packaged separately, and would still be warm when they reached their destination.
City Fresh currently offers three menus: a traditional menu that has a little Southern flavor; an Italian menu and a Russian menu. One of its challenges is feeding both young children and elders.
It also recently added Salads To Go, freshly made salads that are currently marketed to administrators and teachers at the schools and child-care facilities it currently serves. The management team, which includes Lloyd's brother Sheldon and several people who have worked their way up through the company ranks, is also looking at developing the program outside its customer base.
"There are two things we are really excited about for 2010," Lloyd said. "We're working on a nice salad meal. We're always trying to figure out ways to get kids to eat more vegetables.
"The other part of it is using more locally grown products."
Last summer, City Fresh contracted with a local farm for squash that was worked into many side dishes. It also uses grass-fed beef that is raised in New Hampshire. Now it is working with a neighborhood group in Roxbury to turn a parcel of land into a garden growing produce for market. One of its first crops would be a salad greens mix for City Fresh.
"That's the thought process," Lloyd said. "We're still in the development stages. There's the permitting and very strict guidelines that have to be followed to ensure the quality of the soil and the water... But we're confident that we can create a model that can be used in other cities."
It's a thought process that holds true to the City Fresh mission of utilizing local resources to provide a high-quality product, create jobs and contribute to a better, stronger community.
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