Chefs for Seniors, a meal delivery service where professional chefs cook meals in a client’s home, is expanding into Jacksonville.

 

Madison, Wis.-based chef Nathan Allman launched the company after repeated conversations with his older customers about what they were cooking at home.

“I realized that many of them were struggling to make well-balanced meals for themselves,” he said. “I understood that there were companies who would deliver a meal and senior centers where they could go to eat, but I thought it would be a unique opportunity to go into their home and cook for them.”

Since 2013, more than 70,000 meals have been made across Wisconsin, Chicago and South Florida in Palm Beach County and Broward County.

Late last month, the company began offering franchise opportunities in cities across the country including Jacksonville.

“One of the challenges for us is trying to meet the demand for the service,” said Barrett Allman, Allman’s son and co-founder. “We’ve gotten calls from every state across the country and it’s been a daunting task, so we decided to put together a franchise opportunity, which we feel is the best way for us to spread the service to other communities.”

Once clients commit to the service, the company then meets with them to talk about their food preferences and dietary concerns.

“After an initial consultation, we gather all the information we need so the chef can plan a menu and buy the ingredients they need before going into the senior’s home,” he said. “They’re there for about two hours and try to create a fun, interactive environment.”

Allman added that the same chef visits the client’s home on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

“We believe in maintaining the relationship that develops over time,” he said. “After the chef is done cooking, they pack up the meal and put it in the fridge or freezer, clean up the kitchen and then sit down with the client to come up with the menu for next week.”

According to Allman, a majority of Chefs for Seniors’ clients use the service weekly.

“We’re fulfilling a need for folks who don’t want to or are unable to cook for themselves,” he said. “It’s something people look forward to and it’s neat to see how excited people get about the service.”

Barrett said Jacksonville is an ideal market for the company.

“There’s a high demographic of seniors who want to remain independent as well as a solid labor force of chefs and a number of homecare companies that have been very successful in Jacksonville,” he said. “It’s a market we’ve been eyeing for a while.”

Chefs for Seniors is targeting two different groups for its franchise opportunities.

“One group is the working chef who works at a restaurant or catering company and is looking for something different, which would allow them to have their own business,” he said. “The other is geared towards someone with sales and managerial experience who wants to get into the senior space and build a regional territory.”

The lowest investment for a Chefs for Seniors franchise is $5,800, while the higher end is $12,000.

Barrett said once franchisees join the company, they go through a training program in Madison, Wis.

“A lot of them haven’t run a business before, so we teach them how to set it up, market it, sell it to customers and give them an operating system with a pricing structure,” he said. “Beyond that training, we provide ongoing support and any issues they may run into we’ve likely already gone through, so we can give them a solution for those problems.”

Allman said the company is looking to launch 10 franchises in Florida in areas such as Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Tampa, Miami and Tallahassee.

“It’s by far the No. 1 area we’re targeting, because of the high population of seniors,” he said. “Florida has so many resources for seniors and what we’re providing is unique, so it’s a good fit.”

Allman anticipates that Chefs for Seniors will have a presence in every state in three years.

“Ultimately the reasoning behind franchising is to make sure this service is available for seniors who want to age in place,” he said. “The senior population is growing so rapidly and there will be more of a need in the future.”

For more information about Chefs for Seniors, visit chefsforseniors.com.

Ann Friedman: (904) 359-4619