ORLANDO, Fla. – A pair of women, both University of Central Florida grads, who spent their careers working in the tech industry are now turning their talents toward bringing a new, healthy meal option to Central Florida.
The pair started EnjoyRise, a company that offers “micro-restaurant” machines that make custom, plant-based salads and bowls.
The food itself is prepared off-premise, by a chef in a certified kitchen and delivered in canisters which are replaced daily. The user submits their order through an app or the machine’s touchscreen. The machine then assembles the bowl to order. The menu changes on a weekly basis, according to EnjoyRise.
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The company was founded by Katie Kennedy and Caroline Pino. Prior to starting the company, the pair often found themselves traveling for work.
“So initially, we were trying to solve a problem in the airports for busy travelers like ourselves that wanted to be healthy,” Kennedy said. “We started going down the path of developing technology ourselves to create a smoothie vending machine type concept.”
As the pair were working to develop the technology for their planned smoothie machine, they both ended up spending some time in the hospital which ended up changing their business model.
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“My partner (Pino) was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer,” Kennedy said. “And then I had my second child. Both of us — her much more so than me — spent time in hospitals and realized that there was a large need that needed to be filled, which was for third-shift (health care workers) to gain access to healthy food.”
While pursuing their research and development in this new direction, they found the technology that their “micro-restaurants” run on.
“(We) fell in love with (the technology) and decided that we wanted to create a full-service company around it,” Kennedy said. “The journey started about four years ago. We started establishing a relationship with the manufacturer about two years ago. About a year ago, we started pitching clients and then we are now 90 days into our first pilot.”
For now, there is only one “micro-restaurant” machine Aspire Health Partners corporate offices in Orlando, “specifically because they wanted to pilot the concept before expanding to their hospital locations,” according to Kennedy.
EnjoyRise is already planning to expand into at least two AdventHealth hospitals in Winter Park and Celebration.
“We’re very focused on serving Central Florida,” Kennedy said. “We will likely expand to Tampa as well. We’ve gotten some interest in Tampa and so we’re looking to service that area, but primarily focused on Central Florida and then expanding out as, as the demand grows.”
It’s not clear yet what the demand will be, as EnjoyRise is still in its infancy, but the micro-restaurant niche is not very full at the moment.
“Farmer’s Fridge has the closest model to what we’ve come up with,” Kennedy said.
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She added that what really sets EnjoyRise apart is its customizability, whereas their competitor only offers prefab options.
“So let’s say it’s a Greek-inspired menu, and I personally hate onions. I hate them. If they’re on a pre-created menu, like or a pre-created salad, even if you take the onions out, you can still taste them,” Kennedy said. “So, because everything is separate (in the EnjoyRise machine) and nothing touches the other ingredient until they come into the bowl you don’t have that scenario where there may be one or two things you don’t like in that creation.”
While EnjoyRise is aimed specifically at hospitals and people working late or overnight shifts, they are also looking to expand into other businesses.
“We’ve also developed an offering where we can do a subscription service,” Kennedy said. “Think Silicon Valley — you’re at Google and all your food is provided. It’s an employee perk, and it’s a strong one because food is expensive, especially fresh food. So, we are seeing demand and we’re working on a couple partnerships around that subscription model to actually provide this to employees as a perk within the office.”
While those plans may still be in the distance, Kennedy said the EnjoyRise team is just excited to bring their product to consumers.
“Honestly, we’re just so excited to serve the community in Orlando. We’ve been in stealth mode, so to speak, for quite some time getting this concept ready for market. So now we’re just ready to really explode and serve the community,” she said.
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