By William Thornton Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Nourish" food delivery service features Southern-inspired meals with a premium on presentation and nutrition. Think gluten-free fried chicken which uses almond meal instead of traditional breadcrumbs.
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
The founders of Birmingham-based Nourish, a meal subscription service, use a word familiar to the digital age to describe their business association.
"Something just clicked with us," said Mary Drennen, who along with Tiffany Vickers Davis heads the company.
Nourish began back in 2014 featuring Southern-inspired meals with a premium on presentation and nutrition. It offers individual, couple and family plans with weekly changes to the menu. Subscribers can choose a week's worth of meals with add-ons, such as snacks, soups and beverages, available.
Meals are shipped free (within the two-day shipping zone) in custom cooler boxes and can be heated throughout the week. Individual plans start at $63.75 a week. They have a meal rotation of about six weeks.
Drennen and Vickers met back in 2004 when both were chefs in the test kitchen at "Cooking Light" magazine. They had adjoining cubes and shared backgrounds as classically-trained chefs. Drennen attended the French Culinary Institute, now known as the International Culinary Institute, in New York City, while Davis attended Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.
Together, they were charged with making healthy comfort food that could be prepared in the home. Those conversations and dishes were the beginning of what became their business, they said.
"People getting food delivered to their homes really wasn't on the radar then," Drennen said. "But it laid the foundation for what we're doing now."
They formed their first part-time catering company in 2007, and by 2012, they began developing a meal plan for Iron Tribe. Pretty soon, people who didn't go to the gym were asking for dishes.
Nourish began slowly and picked up speed around 2016 when the company began to use social media. What started out as five people became a crew of 23 involved in production, logistics, business, customer service and marketing.
Most of their customers, they say, are women -- both working moms and busy professionals.
So far, they've shipped to 40 states. They've also spent time over the last six months improving the company's ordering and purchasing infrastructure. Their next step is finding a new home. Nourish has outgrown the 5,000-square-foot space the company occupies and is looking for a distribution center three times as large.
"We like to focus ourselves in the Southeast," Davis said. "We still see a lot of untapped market."
Drennen and Davis say they have an advantage over other subscription services because none of their larger competitors are paying attention to the market in the South.
They enjoy food. Mary's favorite dish is their gluten-free fried chicken which uses almond meal instead of traditional breadcrumbs. Tiffany loves the bangers and mash with Andouille sausage over mashed cauliflower with a caramelized onion topping.
And they also enjoy the Birmingham business community, Davis said.
"It's been so supportive," she said. "I've really been surprised and delighted at how intelligent this business community is, and how much support and promotion you can get in this area.
"You don't have to live in New York City to be successful. We like the lifestyle we live in Birmingham. We can be mothers and entrepreneurs and still pick up our kids at carpool."