BERLIN - At about 4:30 p.m. it was as if he blinked and the day was almost over.
That’s how opening day went for James Bannon, owner of Box Bistro, at 1240 Farmington Ave. on July 17.
“It’s been a really good first day,” said Bannon, of his business that “fuels fitness” by providing prepared meals for people with an active, busy lifestyle or who simply want to eat healthier.
Box Bistro also provides some quick bites and grab-and-go options.
The business works by offering a rotating choice of six meals from a total of 20 for the week ahead. Order the type, number and size of meals - medium, large, Just Results lunch and Just Results dinner (which are based on Just Right nutritionist recommendations) - from the list of meals for the upcoming week by Thursday, and Bannon and his team will spend Sunday cooking them to order for pickup on Monday, and for the grab-and-go refrigerator.
“I’ve always done my own meal prep,” said Tina Morales of Berlin, who shortened her run to allow more time to stop by for the opening and ordered the unstuffed cabbage and chicken tenders.
“This is so convenient. …This morning I was, like, I’m just going to stop and get a meal. I don’t have to do any (cooking).”
“(It’s) pretty inexpensive, considering a lot of the other options we have for meal preps, if you don’t like doing it yourself,” said John Harrington.
Meals begin at $9.
Bannon, a high school culinary arts teacher in Branford for 12 years and a Crossfit teacher for about five at Crossfit Factory Square in Southington, began his business last November by cooking meals in his home kitchen for certain patrons at the gym.
Word of mouth spread, so he began working out of the Congregational Church of Plainville, storing meals at Crossfit Factory Square and then other gyms.
Also on sale at the store are coffee from Giv Coffee of Canton, cold-brew tea, cheddar, blueberry and chocolate chip scones; egg and cheese sandwiches with nitrate free and uncured meat options, paleo green, berry and chocolate banana smoothies and eggs, meat and sweet potato dishes.
His grab-and-go fridge stocked with 70 prepared meals was empty by the end of the opening day.
“It’s really cool to see his dream come true,” said Holly Bannon, his wife, who was on hand with James Bannon’s cousin and his wife to help with opening day.
Bannon redid the whole store - which used to be the Kitchen Table - by painting the interior, building a register counter, installing a wall to cover a walk-in freezer he needed to install to be a legal food producer, Holly Bannon said.
After the steady stream of constant customers on the first day, James Bannon said he plans to adjust the cooking schedule to provide more meals to go throughout the week, rather than just cook on Sunday, as well as remain open later on Tuesday through Friday to provide at least the grab and go meals as dinner options.
“It sounds clichéd, but we’re fit because we pay attention to what we put in our bodies, we work out in the communities with people that are the same way that are frustrated with what out there,” said Bannon. “And now we’ve created the option. We’re doing it for you. We’re picking the ingredients, we’re preparing it … and the cleanup, it’s simple (with us).”
The store’s hours, for now, are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday.
For more information, visit box-bistro.myshopify.com.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.