I grew up in the Swift Creek community in Raleigh, NC and come from a family of great cooks. My grandmother was famous in our community for her German Chocolate Cake, fried chicken and pimento cheese. My mother was a fantastic cook and loved reading cookbooks and trying new recipes. My dad was a master at grilling and was known for his grilled steaks and barbecued chicken. We sat down to a dinner every night at the dinner table and always had a big lunch after church. We had a huge garden every summer and canned and froze vegetables to enjoy throughout the winter. I got the cooking bug from all of them and love to read cookbooks and try new recipes on my family.
I worked as a Human Resources Manager until my daughter was 18 months old and I quit my job to stay home with her in January 1999. My son was born in December 1999. I quickly realized how hard it was to prepare dinner each night with two small children. Sometime in 2004, I heard about a place in Raleigh that you could go to and prepare meals to freeze and cook at home. I made an appointment and went to dream Dinners. I loved the concept but the whole time I was there I kept thinking of ways it could be better. Over the next few months, I continued to think about this meal assembly business and started doing some research. At that time, was the only business like this in the area and it was about a 40-minute drive from my home outside of Apex.
I had planned to go back to work when my son started kindergarten in 2005 and as I started thinking about this I kept circling back to the meal assembly business I had visited. I just felt like this could make such a difference to other busy families and moms that were struggling to prepare a healthy, homecooked meal each night like I was. I looked at several franchises and talked to lots of people but quickly realized a few things. I didn’t want to pay unnecessary royalties to a franchise and I didn’t want someone telling me what my menu was going to be each month and who I had to purchase my food from. So, I started looking at how I could open one of these businesses independently without having any idea at all how to go about starting a business, much less a food-related business.
Anyone that has ever started their own business knows how challenging this can be. In early 2006 things started falling into place and Dinner Savvy started to become a reality. We opened our doors on July 13, 2006, on my birthday. Over the next year or so, similar businesses opened around the triangle reaching a total of 15. Then the recession hit in 2008 and just as quickly as these other businesses opened, they began closing. Soon, we were the only meal assembly business left.
I’m often asked how we are still open when everyone else closed. I tell people it’s because of several things.
- We are not a franchise. This means we can create our own recipes and menus and purchase our food from any supplier that we choose.
- We use fresh ingredients and we cut and hand trim our meats in-house. It makes a difference.
- Our meals are exactly what you would make yourself in your own kitchen. The only difference is they are made in our kitchen and cooked in yours.
This business has been amazing, even with all the ups and downs that owning a small business brings. It has brought some incredible people into my life that I probably never would have found without Dinner Savvy. It allowed me to work side by side with my incredible mother for 9 years before her health forced her to give it up. She passed away in March 2016 after a courageous battle with breast cancer but her spirit is still alive and well every day at The Savvy! We have blessed that so many people trust us to feed them and their families and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity!