By Ali Magno
Open since 2014, Center Cuts Gourmet Butcher and Catering specializes in providing prime meats, poultry, and catering across Long Island, but now, owners Douglas Cohen and Justin Aronoff are embarking on a new culinary frontier.
The Center Cuts team recently announced the launch of their new company Square Meal Kitchen, a healthy prepared meal distribution company that transforms gyms, yoga studios and vitamin stores into one-stop shops for all their patrons’ health needs—including nutritious food. Their initial focus is on Long Island and the greater New York region, but the two are in the process of expanding their capabilities and interstate certifications to move further into the Northeast as early as 2018. While Cohen and Aronoff have a five-year plan to open facilities strategically throughout the United States, they are intensely focused currently on their home market.
“There’s no better proving ground than Long Island,” says Aronoff. “Our customers are as honest as they are loyal. If we knock it out of the park here, there’s no question our formula will succeed in other parts of the country.”
For years, they’ve been cooking up on-the-go-prepared meals that their customers have raved about, so starting Square Meal Kitchen was only natural for these Roslyn natives.
“It just made sense for us,” explains Cohen. “We love creating great food and we love staying in shape, so we decided to bring both of our passions together to create Square Meal Kitchen.”
Their passion for sharing healthy meals to help others is obvious, too.
“We work long hours, we love exercising, so we really understand how important a healthy meal is,” he continues. “But between working all day and finding the time to exercise, sometimes choosing something quick and unhealthy was easier than taking the time to cook, and we’re sure other people face the same problem.”
With the growing interest in health and wellness, there’s been an explosion of healthy meal companies coming to the rescue in the past few years. In fact, according to global market intelligence publisher Euromonitor, worldwide sales of healthy food products are estimated to reach $1 trillion by the end of 2017. But, in a world of meal companies backed by venture funds and techies, getting into the prepared food industry is difficult. Luckily, the boys at Square Meal Kitchen saw this crowded marketplace as an opportunity to do something different.
Committed to supplying high-quality healthy meals pre-cooked by culinary experts, Square Meal Kitchen has a fresh take on the prepared meal industry. Unlike companies such as Blue Apron, who delivers right to their customers, Eat Clean Bro, who offers pick-up or direct-delivery options, or Kettlebell Kitchen, who delivers to CrossFit gyms, Square Meal Kitchen will focus more on the wholesale marketplace—providing a whole host of added incentives to business owners who become distribution affiliates.
Mutually Beneficial for Business Owners & Patrons
Square Meal Kitchen delivers meals directly to local gyms, fitness centers, corporate offices, and health and vitamin retail stores, and whether signing on as a distribution pickup location or a wholesale distributor, the businesses—and its patrons (employees, in the case of corporate affiliates)—benefit.
Business owners earn commission based off monthly sales, experience more foot traffic and increase customer loyalty, while patrons enjoy greater convenience, and eat healthier. Wholesale distributors—retailers and larger athletic and training facilities—get the added bonus of white-labeling Square Meal Kitchen meals with their own brand, controlling pricing, and earning greater margins.
Through word of mouth alone, Square Meal Kitchen has already gained several substantial distributors across Long Island.
“We saw what these other meal companies were doing and thought, we could do this way better,” explains Cohen. “But we didn’t want to deliver directly to consumers; we wanted to become a behind-the-scenes supplier of healthy meals to help other businesses.”
Mike Adamcewicz, owner of multi-location sports nutrition, fitness and vitamin supplements store Total Nutrition and one of the first to contract with Square Meal Kitchen, attributes an uptick in foot traffic and overall business to these healthy, pre-cooked meals.
“I’m attracting new customers because of the quality and convenience of the meals,” he says. “It’s been a complete game-changer for us.”
From the latest fitness trends like spin and barre class to fashionable athletic lines, detox teas, and now pre-made healthy meals, consumers are investing in their health more and more. A survey by global research firm Nielsen found that younger generations, millennials in particular, are more likely to value healthy food options, and are even more willing to pay a premium to get healthy food. But it’s not just the latest trends they’re interested in—given their busy lifestyles, convenience is key.
Consumers want to be able to meet all their fitness needs at the same places they frequent—such as their go-to vitamin stores, or favorite yoga studios—which is why Cohen and Aronoff are betting on Square Meal Kitchen’s wholesale distribution model. Consumers can hit the gym for a workout or stop by the vitamin shop to pick up their supplements, and grab a week’s worth of healthy meals without having to grocery shop, chop, cook or clean!
While many business owners recognize the benefits of offering these healthy meals at their location, not all have the space, resources, supply, or time, to do it themselves. That’s where Square Meal Kitchen and its partnership opportunities come in.
They cook, package and deliver the prepared meals—and even provide a fridge to store the food, if required. This empowers affiliates to grow and improve, without taking the focus off their own businesses.
“The demand is there,” explains Cohen. “We know people are looking to get healthy, ready-to-eat meals, but the problem is that most of the gyms and vitamin stores they go to don’t have a way make it happen. That’s how we help. We provide these businesses with a way to give their customers meals that align with their lifestyles. It’s a perfect fit.”
“It’s really great for these businesses,” continues Aronoff. “They get to have these great meals in their stores, but they don’t have to take time away from their business to figure out how to do it.”
Cohen adds that fans of Center Cuts can order meals for pickup directly at its Roslyn store, attributing the birth of Square Meal Kitchen and its ever-growing distribution system to the butcher and caterer’s legions of dedicated customers.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he says. “They really gave us the backing and encouragement to pursue this dream.”