I’ve been a business owner in the region for just over three years, which while a relatively short period of time, can feel like an eternity in the fast-paced food services industry. But I’ve learned that Philadelphia is a great place to do business. Word travels fast here if you offer a great product or superior service. It’s a tight-knit city where the people and businesses have high standards and expectations. With good word-of-mouth, our company, Cuisine365, has experienced nice growth, and as the region trends toward healthier living, I expect that to continue.
With my partners, Andrew O’Brien and Johnathan Vargo, we changed Cuisine365 from a personal chef and catering company for high-profile sports teams in the area, to something that’s evolving into something very special. We are a “nutritious food service company,” creating a competitive advantage for organizations by providing delicious nutrition that builds happy, healthy and productive teams. We now offer a variety of services including a healthy meal delivery called “Nutritious by Cuisine365,” “365 Corporate Wellness,” “Cuisine365 Sports Catering,” and dietitian/nutritional consulting services. By being open to trying new ideas and quickly pivoting, our small company has a fighting chance in this highly competitive industry.
The truth is right now in Philadelphia we have a large overweight population. This is unfortunate considering that Philadelphia is one of the largest urban green spaces in the U.S. Our parks, rivers and squares are beautiful spaces that we can use, as families and individuals, to get outside and become healthier. The foundation of good health and well-being starts in the home, and as parents we need to teach our youth that treating your body well is important. We need to be role models. To do so, we need education and resources. Workplace wellness initiatives can help by providing opportunities for good health to begin where most people spend a majority of their time. If we can offer healthy-eating choices, allow workers to take short breaks for walks or stretching and allocate time to exercise, stress management and nutrition education; we can bring that culture of wellness home to share with our families.
There are many benefits to all this. Healthier workers take less sick time and are more productive. This helps reduce health care costs, creates a more energized workforce and adds to a healthier bottom line for businesses. This results in the evolution of a healthier Philadelphia if we can make our city the standard of corporate wellness through policy at a government level, or big businesses making it commonplace. Cuisine365 gives businesses and people a healthier and convenient choice when it comes to their wellness needs.
What can the city do to help? The biggest obstacle Philadelphia needs to change is its taxation of small business and citizens. To keep small businesses here we need a more business-friendly environment. The taxes that small businesses have to deal with are high and there are often better economical options for businesses outside city limits. The various city agencies are often tough to deal with as well. They are overwhelmed and need an upgraded and more efficient infrastructure.
In regards to development, another priority has to be keeping more graduates and young professionals in the city. Projects like the 30th Street Station District, with all its planned outdoor amenities, will be great for Philadelphia. They will not only help small businesses thrive, especially ones like Cuisine365 that gear toward healthy lifestyles, but they will help attract and retain talented professionals to the region.
Our industry has been trending toward healthy and nutritious offerings, which is exciting from both a macro and micro level. Technology has helped accelerate people’s knowledge and awareness of healthier eating habits. Competition has helped make companies take note of the trends and to start offering better options than processed food. The consumer is the winner because they get healthier while prices for healthier options continue to fall.
With innovation and open-minded advancements, Philadelphia can become healthier and more prosperous. In fact, I believe it will one day be the trendsetter for what a healthy city should look like. To me, it is already an exciting place with a bright future, on its way to becoming an even more incredible city.
Frank Batisita has been CEO and majority owner of Cuisine365 since 2014. Before that he worked for his family's accounting firm, Verna and Associates, where he learned the business inside and out. He feels he owes his success and opportunities to his many business mentors, who also happen to be family.
Published (and copyrighted) in Philly Biz, Volume 1, Issue 10 (September, 2016).
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