This Somerville-Based Startup Looks to Provide a Healthier Lunch Option for Offices
Somerville-based Rootastes wants to change the way office employees eat their lunch by providing a healthy, locally-sourced, catering option for companies.
Founded in 2016, the company offers a seasonal menu to create healthy bowl options packed with protein and vegetables.
Companies can order at least 24 hours in advance and will pick from a menu that starts with a base of grains or greens topped with proteins, sides and sauces. The menu is designed to have extensive options for companies that have employees with dietary restrictions.
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There are multiple lunch packages to choose from that differentiate by company size or amount of options. Companies can also set up a subscription such as once a week or month. Then, companies pick a delivery time.
Founder Mint Pattanan originally pitched the company as a project while she was getting her masters from Boston College.
She didn’t advance with it at first, and headed to a full-time job after graduation that was based in a co-working space. Pattanan said that sometimes they would order catering for them, but the food was expensive, unhealthy, and not enough.
Pattanan said she thought back to her project at Boston College and knew that the working lunch model could be better.
“A lot of companies nowadays focus on improving the employee, so they provide a lot of benefits to the employee,” Pattanan said. “We found this as one of the opportunities. I also feel that having good food affects your body as a whole.”
To help found the venture, Pattanan turned to her friend Naphat Chaiparinya, who she met at Boston College, because of her background in sales and organic farming. The last step was getting a chef.
Wachira T. Sittikong met Pattanan through a friend and was instantly interested in the company’s mission. Sittikong grew up in restaurants. His family owned seven restaurants in the Boston-area including Yoong Tong in Northborough and Brown Sugar Cafe in Boston.
Sittikong started working in his family’s restaurants when he was 11 and hated it. He tried to distance himself and went into business, just to discover the kitchen was actually his passion. He went to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston and began cooking full time.
He works with other chefs at a communal kitchen space in Somerville. Every day they prep the orders and deliver them by hand.
Sittikong and Pattanan both emphasized that having someone from the company deliver each order was really important so they would have face to face contact with their customers.
“For me, it’s not about the money, the success, or the name,” Sittikong said. “It’s more about giving back to my customers—this is my passion.”
The eight person company is currently waiting to hear if they were accepted into the MassChallenge class for 2018 on May 28. Pattanan said they are also hoping to raise a crowdfunding round through iFundWomen.
Pattanan said that in the future Rootastes may look to expand to cities like D.C. and Austin that have similar startup and business cultures like Boston.
“This is a very good option to get good food within a short time,” Pattanan said. “Making you not miss having lunch, and also still get the best quality of food, with a very affordable price.”
Rootastes is currently available to order through their website and ezCater’s website.