EatandEvolve

Evolving Peoria: Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle One Meal at a Time

By Kelcie Eminian, Journalism Intern, Illinois Small Business Development Center, Bradley University

Gabriela Morin began her journey as a business owner two years ago with a desire to embrace a healthier lifestyle for both herself and her family.  She began cooking for her friends and family, and later decided to put her MBA to use and pursue her own business. With a plan to offer the benefits of healthy eating to the Peoria area, EatandEvolve was established.

EatandEvolve is healthy meal delivery service that offers a rotating menu of over 50 meal options for the Peoria area. Fresh, made from scratch menu items are delivered the same day they are made. The meal service offers a variety meal plans to fit different lifestyles as well as catering for businesses and events.

In the early stages of business development, Morin faced the obstacle of finding a commercial kitchen to operate out of. After searching for space and gaining proper permits, she settled an agreement to rent a space from a local catering company. Her business has now expanded with four employees, and produces over 1,300 meals a month that are delivered locally.Rice Pic

Morin plans to expand the hours of operation and delivery routes in early 2018. She is also looking forward opening her first permanent location in Spring next year, after recently finding the right spot to reach her target market. From her new brick and mortar, she will offer breakfast and lunch as well as the opportunity to taste some of the favorites from the meal plans menu, which will continue to be the main revenue stream for the company. 

Her business is a unique idea to the Peoria area, and has no similar competition that offers the combination of healthy never frozen options, and the convenience of delivery. “It is a popular idea in large scale cities, but is just now being introduced locally,” she says.

Morin is delighted so far in being well accepted around the Peoria area, and is eager to see her customer base continue to expand. She says, “People respond well to this idea. Instead of being offered just one healthy option off a standard menu, they are offered an entire range of healthy selections.”

She credits some of her success to her experience working with Bradley University’s Illinois Small Business Development Center (Illinois SBDC). Her communication early on benefited her through startup classes, gaining important permit information, and being provided with multiple networking opportunities. Morin’s participation in the inaugural 2016 Brave Launch Program (sponsored by the Illinois SBDC) offered her a platform to jumpstart her local exposure. Gabriela also participated in the Senior Consulting Projects Program where she received a marketing strategy to give her the social media growth and support she needed, which she credits as a major tool in promoting her business.

Potato PicThe Illinois SBDC at Bradley acts as a continuous resource for her business, and is an open, accessible option she visits when questions arise. “There is a big movement at Bradley, with the desire to help entrepreneurs achieve success,” she says.

Morin says the greatest benefit in owning EatandEvolve is the feeling of accomplishment she gains seeing the business thrive. She says, “I have materialized what was once a thought, it’s great seeing a dream that was once on paper become a reality.”

To learn more about the options EatandEvolve has to offer, visit their website at www.eatandevolve.com.