Healthy Fast Food

by Mr. Cheap

The core of the idea is a fast food chain that sells exclusively healthy food. Whereas most fast food focuses on: fast, cheap, tasty the focus would instead be on: fast, cheap, healthy. The primary consideration for “healthy” will be low calorie, although balanced nutrition and all that good stuff won’t be avoided. Rights to use the brand and formulas for most major weight loss programs will be purchased, so the menu can have weight watcher points, a south beach diet section and things along those lines.

One obvious objection is that fast food places have tried healthy menus and they flop. I’d speculate that the two problems are that people get tempted by the unhealthy food, and that they aren’t sure if they can trust them (one of McDonald’s salads had more fat than the Big Mac). The chain would make all nutritional information about all menu option readily available in easy to understand formats.

Another objection would be that Subway is already doing this. I agree, and the approach would be somewhat like Subway’s “eat here every day until you’re thin” Jared idea. The thing is that there’d be more variety than Subway (not just subs) and Subway again has the unhealthy menu options as well (such as their meatball, tuna melt or pizza subs).

A friend of mine is a vegetarian, and he can usually find something at most restaurants that he can eat, but when we go to a vegetarian restaurant, he loves it because he suddenly has a full menu to choose from. That would be the idea behind this restaurant, instead of just serving “Diet Coke” along with the other pops (or soda for the Americans), it would be a choice of 6 different kinds of diet pop. Instead of 6 styles of healthy subs, it would be 25 different options of all different kinds of food, some appropriate for different meals (such as breakfast), all in different styles. There’s value in offering a wide assortment of fringe options.

Where possible, if it could be healthy and tasty that’d obviously be ideal. Some things like hot sauce or salsa are yummy and low calorie.

Menu plans could be offered, showing different different meal options and how many calories they’d add up to daily (and perhaps even suggesting late night snacks that could complement them).

Beyond the menu, the store could offer a “lifestyle”. Perhaps have pictures on the wall of regulars who have met some weight loss goals. Perhaps make space available for Weight Watchers meetings or other groups. Perhaps have invited speakers come and talk about diet, exercise and nutrition.

For this post, or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and we’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Al

I like the idea, and believe it would fail miserably. The problem: price competition. Obviously you’d need both tasty and healthy recipes. But you’d also need to have menu items that are as cheap to make as a burger and fry combo to give you the margin for profitability. If you have to have higher prices for your menu items to cover higher input cost, you’re sunk. I don’t believe people will pay an extra 10% for a healthy option. We’re great at paying lip service to a healthy lifestyle…..

2 guinness416

I think this could definitely work at those godawful highway rest stops in the US and Canada, where the only food options are usually McDonalds, something sweet and nasty from Starbucks, or chips from the the petrol station. I have wondered aloud many times why you cannot get good food or simply a nice apple at most I have stopped at.

You could also go highish end (for fast food) with both location and menu, there are plenty of relatively well-off middle class people like my mum who would never touch Burger King or Subway but would love a comfy place with lots of vegetarian options while out shopping.

3 ThickenMyWallet

It is not so wacky. Wander down to Commerce Court food court in Toronto; there’s a fresh food fast food place and the move toward breakfast cereal places in North America has been pitched as part of the health food movement (there’s also a cereal bar in Commerce Court as well). They are both quite busy.

The real business issue is capital expenditure would be high to start up given you need a lot of capital to secure a long term lease in a desirable locale as well as source suppliers.

The other competitive issue is that traditional fast food joints are moving into this space.

Could be done. Just have to find a location where a lot of yoga practicing, tree-hugging, trend-watching people live.

4 Kyle

My business idea: breakup service. You give us the name and number. We take your soon-to-be-ex significant other out for a nice dinner with wine and cocktails and break the news gently, for a small fee. We also facilitate the returnof any personal items that may have been left at either party’s house. Break-Up’s R’ Us, for when you just don’t care enough to do it yourself.

5 moneygardener

I agree that the idea at its purest is a good one, but implementation would be difficult. Problem number one is that most healthy foods are fresher than unhealthy foods. Hence more turnover, spoilage, and forecasting issues. Also, as TMW points out location and demographics would be absolutely key. Subway does a good job of promoting themselves as the healthy option, whereas most orders are likely too rich in calories, fat, and non whole grains.

6 T

I tried eating at a totally organic fast food place a few times and it was some of the worst food I’ve ever eaten. The chicken burger tasted like it was boiled and reheated plus it was tiny and expensive. The only decent product they had was the sweet potato fries, but I won’t be back.

7 Elaine

There’s a bunch of places in Vancouver like this. Steamrollers for example (steamrollers.com) has 4 locations that do quite well, generally packed at lunchtime. And the salad bar places ($1.29/100g type thing) are quite popular as well. There’s a build-your-own-stirfry place, they are rather liberal with the oil when frying, but if you’re quick you can ask them to go easy on it.

Totally doable.

8 Aaron Stroud

There are some good points above, but the heart of the issue is that there is little to no demand for this type of fast food.

To answer Guinness416’s question, the fast food joints along the highway don’t carry apples because they can’t sell them at a profit. There simply aren’t enough customers or potential customers requesting healthy foods like fresh fruit.

ThickenMyWallet also makes a great point about competition. Existing restaurant franchises will quickly expand into any healthy food markets, much quicker than a young growing business could expand to meet the demand.

9 The Financial Blogger

I’ve seen some stuff like that in food courts… they usually die after 6 months 😉

The funniest thing is that the first add in your Google spot was for Subway 😉 I guess they consider they serve healthy food !

10 Melinda (Aussie-Girl)

Do you know what – I have always considered SUBWAY healthy! (We always eat fresh at home as well with very few cooked veges, the only ones being potato, broccoli/cauliflower & beans).
Back to the Subway topic – The range of salads that you can squeeze into your sub must make it so?
I personally love the meatball with ALL the salads and so do my kids (but not the jalepenos)
And, it is so affordable especially when you can get the $3.50 SUB on any of the menu items once a week.
I would much prefer they eat that than Pizza, Hungry Jacks or Macca’s anyday!
And I crave Subway at least once a month.

PS: We are all built like Greyhounds so maybe we just burn the extra fat up!

11 Aaron Stroud

Kyle, that service already exists. I can’t remember where I read about it, but there’s at least one business providing that service in the US.

12 Four Pillars

There is a new place in the Eaton’s Centre that sells salads. It seems to be doing quite well since it’s possibly the only healthy food in the entire building.

My business idea: breakup service.

Kyle, you wouldn’t happen to be looking to pick up on the rebound?? 🙂

13 nancy (aka money coach)

Do it! do it, do it, do it — start in Vancouver because a) lefty-coast and we Do Healthy and b) I live here and need your restaurant.

Also, like @FourPillars pointed out, increasing numbers of salad shops are opening. I eat at one frequently: fast, healthy. Just add more options, bring in the guest speakers and I honestly think you’re on to something.

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