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SBW: Gluten-free food delivery company expands to Bethesda

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 7/25/2014, 10:10am  ET

This is Small Business Weekly, a recurring feature in which we’ll spotlight a small, independently owned business in Bethesda or Chevy Chase. Got a business you think we should check out? Drop us a line at desk[at]bethesdanow[dot]com.

The Green Spoon founder Hanson 
Cheng, via Ethan Rothstein/ARLNow.comIt’s not often a gluten-free food delivery service wins an award for best tasting food at an event full of established restaurants.

That’s what happened to The Green Spoon founder Hanson Cheng and chef Donn Souliyadath in May, when their dish of Kofte meatballs with tzatziki, spiced kale and chickpeas won the best entree award among 46 restaurants at the Taste of Arlington.

It came at a fortunate time for Cheng, who has expanded the Arlington-based business to other areas around the Washington region, including Bethesda, where The Green Spoon has about 12 clients.

At least a week before the customers want the meal, they order it online from The Green Spoon’s website. They can choose which day they want it and which meal. Lunches are $12.95, dinners are $16.95 and kids meals are $8.95. All are gluten free and all our sourced from local ingredients Cheng said are delivered a day or a day-and-a-half after bought from a farmer, farmers market or other vendor.

The concept is simple: No genetically altered ingredients and no chemical substitutes that you’ll typically find in gluten-free breads or pastas. The Green Spoon, which Cheng founded in January in part because of his own interest in nutrition and fitness, avoids gluten-heavy foods altogether.

“I wanted a chef to go into a farmers market and make and plan out a healthy meal for me for every day of the entire week,” Cheng said. “Basically, I thought about what a personal chef does. And then I got the idea that you could deliver that to people.”

As word about the company grew — no doubt helped by the Taste of Arlington showing — people from Bethesda and other places began inquiring about what it would take to get deliveries.

Cheng said he uses a simply formula to determine when it would be economically viable for his company, now 12 employees strong, to deliver to a particular area. Once he got about five customers in Bethesda, it made sense to start deliveries.

Souliyadath cooks the meals out of an operating Arlington restaurant, which mainly means cooking overnight when the restaurant is closed. Based on the company’s early success, he’s hoping to find a kitchen space just for The Green Spoon.

“That’s our number one priority,” Cheng said. “My guys are cooking overnight during off-hours and it’s just killing them. We’re growing very quickly.”

Cheng said what separates The Green Spoon from similar services such as Power Supply is that while his company uses many of the same Paleo diet principles, it’s not quite as strict and includes direct delivery to customers, instead of pre-arranged pick-up spots.

“It’s not rocket science,” Cheng said. “We do have a great chef, but it just takes a lot more planning. So to win in Taste of Arlington against all these restaurants that don’t have a health focus, it showed people we can make healthy meals that taste amazing.”

Photo via Ethan Rothstein/ARLNow.com

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