ST. LOUIS — A start-up online meal-delivery service based here has set itself apart by offering an exclusively vegetarian menu.
MyGreenBistro.com, launched last month, targets a small but growing niche market, its founder Bryan Lawrence, a veteran of the food and beverage industry, told SN.
From a 1,500-square-foot central kitchen, Lawrence offers chef-prepared, healthy, vegetarian meals for delivery anywhere in the United States.
A vegetarian himself, Lawrence said that although the meals his company offers are exclusively vegetarian, his target market is not necessarily limited to customers who never eat meat.
“My message is that these meals are convenient, taste good and are healthy, and I expect them to appeal to some carnivores and certainly to flexitarians, as well as to vegetarians and vegans,” Lawrence explained. “Flexitarians” are usually described as consumers who follow vegetarian diets the majority of the time, but still consume meat on certain occasions, perhaps when eating with friends or relatives, for example.
Lawrence said he's interested in letting consumers — all consumers — know that vegetarian fare is more than brown rice and bare tofu.
The concept is geared toward offering a solution for customers who lack the time to put a healthy meal together, rather than on customers who are exclusively vegetarians. He said he's aware of busy people's challenges in getting a healthy but appealing meal on the table, and that those challenges are heightened if a person is restricted to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
“I felt that this was an opportunity to show that there are some delicious options available and we have them,” he said.
Lawrence was inspired by restaurants that have recently pumped up their offerings of interesting vegetarian items, and by some that are offering exclusively vegetarian menus. For a long time, as a vegetarian, he said he had been disheartened by the lack of options on the menus of fine dining and casual restaurants.
MyGreenBistro.com's menu currently features 20 entrees, which include the likes of roasted vegetable-stuffed sweet onion with a saffron couscous salad and pomegranate sauce; Moroccan tofu steak with curried quinoa and pineapple chutney; and savory seitan stew on pappardelle noodles with roasted broccoli and red peppers.
A la carte items, such as herb-crusted tempeh with orange ginger sauce and seitan skewers with chimichuri citrus-herb sauce, are also available.
“I hired a couple of chefs here in town to develop my recipes,” Lawrence said. “They've had experience doing creative things with tempeh and seitan [meat substitutes] to create interesting options.”
Lawrence said his personal favorite on MyGreenBistro.com's menu is seitan bourguignon.
The meals are prepared several at a time, with the components vacuum-packaged in pouches and then flash-frozen. Meals that include an entrée and two sides range in price from $10.50 to $12.50, plus overnight or second-day shipping charges.
So far, his advertising has been limited to Google ads, but as he identifies areas of the country that produce a lot of orders, Lawrence said he may add print ads and infomercials to his marketing efforts.
Before getting into this enterprise, Lawrence had experience in Australia launching natural food stores and had worked in marketing at Anheuser-Busch in the United States.