WARNING: This blog will make you hungry.
Hungry to eat great, healthy food. Hungry to get off the couch and get moving. Hungry to achieve your goals. Erica Bryant, owner and founder of The Healthy Food Café, The Healthy Food Truck, and BeetBox Eatery knows about satisfying an intense hunger. She’s dedicated her entrepreneurial career to helping people get and stay healthy – a goal that is keeping her heart and life very full.
Erica took a quick break from founding and running four businesses for a quick bite with The Startup Ladies to detail how she does it all.
What is The Healthy Food Café?
The Healthy Food Café is a one-stop-shop for healthy dietary options. We offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with snacks, healthy desserts from our bakery, smoothies, juices, specialty coffees, and more. I started six years ago with my meal prep service. That grew into The Healthy Food Truck and then we added The Healthy Food Café, which is now three years old. My goal in opening all these businesses is to give EVERYONE healthy food options with no excuses. I’m on a mission to make a difference in the way people view healthy lifestyles.
How are you uniquely taking on an entire industry of fast, unhealthy food options?
We are leveraging our experience and passion in health and fitness to bring healthy food options to everyone. We offer an onsite health coach and personal trainer to help customers develop meals, menus, and diet plans. We don’t compromise on quality, which is why we source and use the freshest ingredients daily. We know a gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, or vegan lifestyle isn’t for everyone. However, even for fast food eaters, it offers a nice change of pace to munch on fresh veggies, drink fresh juices, or enjoy organic items. Our mantra is eat healthy, live healthy.
Picture “The Healthy Food Café Inside”
What experiences brought you to where you are today as an entrepreneur?
My love of fitness and eating to fuel your body started in high school. I was a sports ambassador for the United States when I played volleyball in Australia and New Zealand. After high school I joined the U.S. Navy. I trained as a medic on my ship and went to school for personal training while enlisted. After leaving the military, I went back to school to work toward my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. When I returned to Indianapolis, I worked at the Indiana Heart Hospital and a global gym. Seeing patients still not motivated to eat right, even after open heart surgery, or clients in the gym with so many food-related health problems, motivated me to start my businesses to be more preventative of these health challenges.
What’s been the biggest aha moment with The Healthy Food Café?
We are seeing more restaurants (even chains from other states), now offering the choices I built my business on years ago. I was told Indiana wasn’t a good market for vegan, organic, or gluten-free options, and that we wouldn’t make it a year. The opposite has proven to be true. We now get calls and emails constantly requesting our services and food! We make it taste good, keep it convenient, offer a good price point, and have big servings.
What’s your plan for scaling the business?
We plan to open a second The Healthy Food Café on the northside of Indianapolis. While the southside of Indianapolis is not quite our demographic, we are the first and one of the only cafes offering healthy foods, juices and smoothies. Our goal is to expand BeetBox Eatery smart refrigerators to more than 15 locations this year. I have boot strapped everything I have now. The money I get from working I put back into the business to grow it. I also use small loans and pay them off before interest accrues to build good credit.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
To work in the restaurant field, you need to grow thick skin. You can’t please everyone (even though I still try to) and you can’t pour from an empty cup. You also must find balance in life (I’m still working on this).
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs, especially those with a passion for health and fitness?
The best advice I can give is to do something you are passionate about or do something you would do for free if you were a millionaire. Motivation and money won’t always get you out of bed to do the same thing over and over again when times get hard. You have to LOVE what you do.
Callout: “The best advice I can give is to do something you are passionate about or do something you would do for free if you were a millionaire.”
What resources have helped most in your entrepreneurial journey?
Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind – Dan Charnas
Break Out!: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life – Joel Osteen
Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches – Steve Harvey
The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
My clients – They are my walking testimonies and motivation. Seeing them succeed is the best!
My family – My mom is my biggest cheerleader and prayer warrior! My fiancé shows me patience. I vent all my problems and frustrations to him. He also is a big encouragement when I feel like giving up and he helps me out of my tunnel vision.
How has The Startup Ladies helped you as a business owner?
The Startup Ladies and Kristen Cooper have definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m an introvert. Having to talk to strangers about myself and my business is hard for me, but I know it’s needed for my brand to grow. Before joining The Startup Ladies, I never told people I owned my restaurant. I was afraid of people’s judgement and them thinking I wasn’t qualified, even though I am. Now I proudly tell people when they ask who owns this place that I do!