RIGHTON is an ongoing series celebrating innovative brands that are changing our world.
Healthy, fresh foods are often too expensive to be accessible to all, especially on the go. And just as often they’re packaged in the same down-market, waste-producing cardboards or plastics as fast food. Fresh Bowl plays by different rules.
The brainchild of Chloe Vichot and Zachary Lawless, Fresh Bowl offers convenient, fresh meals in reusable jars and at an affordable price. “We want people to be able to eat well without long lines or having to think too much,” says Vichot. “And we want to make it fun and easy to do something good for the environment.”
Togther, Vichot and Lawless are satisfying two needs – convenience and sustainability — with one solution, and they’re using old school tech to do so, too.
Fresh Bowl’s story begins in the epicenter of workaholic life, Wall Street, where French-born Vichot worked as an executive for a decade, experiencing for herself the daily hassle of finding healthy food on a hectic schedule. Frustrated by that finance life, she did something unexpected: she went to culinary school and opened a seasonal café.
Called Ancolie, which translates to “Botany,” and located in New York’s West Village, the space let Vichot create what she’d been missing: fresh foods conveniently packaged in reusable jars. They were a hit, and an emboldened Vichot planned on expanding Ancolie into two or three locations. Unfortunately, the overhead costs proved too daunting.
As luck would have it, it was around this time that Vichot met Lawless, a business finance professional with a background in healthcare. Inspired to make a broader change together, the duo ditched the static restaurant model to pursue a more agile, and accessible, set up: vending machines.
Stocked with Brooklyn-grown greens and offering gluten-free options, Fresh Bowl’s convenient digs are far from the dreary, junk-laden vending machines of yore. Sleek and attractive, they look right at home in New York’s Fulton Street Subway Center, where they’re currently running a pilot program. In other words, they’re vending machine you’re not embarrassed to be seen with, and, best of all, they offer commuters from all walks of life affordable, healthy options, from salads to pastas to chia pudding, that reduce packaging waste.
But Fresh Bowl’s jars are about more than being ecological responsible, or even convenient. To Vichot, they’re about changing people’s relationships with convenient foods: “For me, the experience of eating out of glass is much better than plastic: the food looks really nice, and you want to take your time.”
Diners are encouraged to enjoy their meal, rather than scarfing and running. And, if time runs out, you can seal it, finish later, and return the jar for a $2 credit for your next Fresh Bowl — a concept that will never go stale.
Next up on Fresh Bowl’s menu: expansion – they hope to open 100 new locations by the end of 2020. And they’re always looking for suggestions. Says Vichot, “If you know any location that would make sense or want a machine in your office/building, please contact us!”