Operations

After tripling in unit count in 2022, Everytable plans to pick up the pace

Another 75 units are planned next year, and the first class of Social Equity Franchisees prepares for ownership.
Everytable in Los Angeles
Everytable expects to reach more than 125 storefronts before the end of 2023./Photo courtesy of Everytable.

By the time New Year’s Eve revelers pop open the champagne, the Los Angeles-based Everytable will be celebrating the opening of 40 new locations in 2022 alone, more than tripling the chain’s footprint to about 54 locations.

In 2023, Everytable is on track to open another 75 units. The chain has moved from Southern California to New York City, where there will be seven open by the end of 2022 and another 20 to 30 coming to the greater New York area next year.

In early 2023, Everytable will open storefronts in Northern California, in Berkeley and Oakland, and then work to fill in existing markets, said founder Sam Polk.

Then, in 2024, Everytable expects to move into Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., possibly Boston and Phoenix, and maybe also Chicago and Texas, Polk said.

What began in 2015 as a restaurant concept with a social justice mission to make healthy, fresh food affordable in underserved communities has grown into an omnichannel prepared food business that has raised more than $55 million for growth.

The chain is supplied by its commissary kitchens and handles its own distribution and logistics, creating efficiencies that allow Everytable to keep prices accessible.

Out of the brick-and-mortar storefronts, Everytable offers grab-and-go fare, with prices more elevated in higher-income neighborhoods to subsidize lower prices in areas often called “food deserts” where fresh, healthy food is harder to find.

The business is also growing rapidly on a number of fronts beyond the brick-and-mortar units.

There’s a subscription program for diners to order meals for delivery. Everytable has an institutional foodservice operation providing meals for low-income seniors, for example, or houseless residents temporarily sheltered in hotels. Healthcare facilities pay Everytable to provide nutritionally specific menus to patients too, as part of their recovery or treatment.

The commissaries also supply fresh meals to roughly 200 unmanned Smart Fridges located in hospitals, college campuses, manufacturing sites—and even Amazon warehouse facilities—that operate like a digital fresh-food vending machine. Polk expects the number of Smart Fridges to grow to about 400 next year.

And Everytable also offers a Pay It Forward program. Guests in stores or online can purchase coupons for meals for those in need. Those donations might pay for a meal in one of the restaurants for someone who just doesn’t have the cash. Or such coupons are distributed by nonprofit partners, like Polo’s Pantry in Los Angeles or City Harvest in New York, which the food insecure can use in Everytable stores.

More than 20,000 meals have been donated since the program started in 2018, and Everytable expects about 8,000 will be given this holiday season alone.

“We’ll see things like some business in North Dakota buying 100 meals for people. Or a random individual in Florida who came upon our story might buy meals for people,” said Polk. “It’s a great way to contribute and make sure people have food in their bellies, even during difficult times.”

Next year will also be a pivotal time for Everytable’s franchise program.

Everytable has developed a unique Social Equity Franchising program designed to bring more women and people of color into ownership, tapping talent from within the system.

Following a rigorous training program designed to prepare them for all aspects of ownership, the franchisees will be provided with capital needed to buy their first unit, as well as mentorship support. Once the unit is profitable, the franchisee then pays back investment costs in time.

The first franchisee candidates in the Social Equity Franchise program are scheduled to “graduate” next year.

Already, Polk is expecting some of those franchisees will want to become multi-unit operators. So Everytable is raising more money to create a $20 million social equity loan program, for which Polk said $12 million has already been committed, with the goal of partnering with philanthropic financial services that have a mandate to loan, invest in or provide grants to operations in underserved neighborhoods.

Ideally, Everytable will open units as company-owned stores that will later be taken over by franchisees as the program grows.

“In a lot of ways, every single manager in an Everytable store has the potential to be a Social Equity Franchisee. We’ve got a big pipeline of candidates, and there’s nothing stopping them from opening multiple franchise units,” said Polk. “If we can continue to build this at the pace that we’re trying to go, we think there would be an opportunity for hundreds or thousands of entrepreneurs in this process, just within the next five to 10 years.”

Polk said he admires the Domino’s pizza franchise model, where the average franchisee owns seven or eight locations.

“That’s sort of where we’re trying to take this,” he said. “If we have really ambitious, talented operators, we want them to drive a serious-sized business for themselves.”

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