Des Moines delivery service Dinner Dispatch opens store amid COVID boom


Because the uncertainty of coronavirus-related restrictions and lockdowns led to panic purchases and sparse grocery retailer cabinets final 12 months, co-owners LeAnn Thongvanh and Jennifer Oredson watched gross sales from their Des Moines-based meal equipment supply service develop.

In only one quarter, Dinner Dispatch noticed gross sales climb 300%, the homeowners stated. 

“I believe we turned one of many panic firms,” Oredson stated. “We bought out inside like 48 hours every time we posted a brand new menu as a result of folks have been like ‘I’ll declare these meals so I haven’t got to go to the shop.””

Purchase Picture

Jennifer Oredson, and LeAnn Thongvanh, co-owners of Dinner Dispatch stand for a photograph at their retailer in Windsor Heights, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Picture: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register)

Of their first 12 months, Dinner Dispatch bought round 1,150 meals and 4,600 servings. By the top of 2020, they’d bought 7,624 meals or round 39,776 servings.

Driving the pandemic’s momentum, Thongvanh and Oredson have been in a position to develop Dinner Dispatch from a workforce of two to 20 workers. They opened their first storefront at 7246 College Ave. in Windsor Heights final month.

Their enterprise is just like different house meal-kit firms which have gained recognition lately. Every Monday, drivers journey a 20-mile radius from the shop to ship the kits to 100 households throughout the Des Moines metro. In addition they ship to a number of prospects in Ames.

However Dinner Dispatch is not like well-known meal kits comparable to Howdy Recent or Blue Apron in a single key approach — the meals is already lower, seasoned and able to go, Oredson stated. The entire purpose is to make it simpler for folks to prepare dinner and eat well-rounded meals with out having to plan, store or prep. 

“(Howdy Recent is) primarily a meal plan with a field of groceries. … In different phrases you do all the things,” Oredson stated. “Your involvement with us is popping a bag the other way up right into a sheet pan or one thing. We have lower all the things, we have seasoned all the things. You continue to must prepare dinner it except it is the odd meal that is able to eat.” 

As busy mothers, the pair wished straightforward methods to prepare dinner: ‘We’re our prospects’

Dinner Dispatch’s origins lie in Thongvanh’s and Oredson’s friendship and shared experiences as moms managing full-time careers.

The duo met in 2014 whereas working for Wildtree, a spice and seasoning firm that provided meal prep workshops.

Thongvanh, who has two youngsters and was working as a trainer, and Oredson, who has three youngsters and was working as a labor and supply nurse, stated they got here to Wildtree throughout a busy time of their lives when getting ready wholesome meals for his or her households turned difficult.

“We’re our prospects,” Oredson stated.

The pair stated working at Wildtree impressed them to create an excellent simpler choice for many who discover cooking troublesome to suit into hectic schedules. They launched Dinner Dispatch in March of 2019.

“Our persons are busy of us who discover themselves consuming unhealthy comfort meals approach too typically,” Oredson stated. “And if our service replaces pizza or a drive-thru, then that already is more healthy.”

In the beginning, native grocery shops ready Thongvan’s and Oredson’s recipes and meal plans whereas they waited for an permitted meals license. Some weeks, Dinner Dispatch would promote 10 meals and different uncommon weeks, 100.

By November of 2019, Thongvanh and Oredson have been in a position to lease a industrial kitchen on the Robert Mickle Enterprise and Neighborhood Useful resource Heart in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood. The middle has a low-cost group kitchen designed to assist meals entrepreneurs develop their enterprise. 

“I am so glad we began there,” Oresdson stated. “It was a ton of freedom to take dangers and do our personal factor with out an excessive amount of monetary fear. Each time we wanted time we might lease there with out an excessive amount of commitments.”

There, the enterprise began to take off. 

In these early days, Thongvanh stated it wasn’t unusual to search out herself slicing peppers for six hours straight or Oredson watching 15 kilos of carrots to cut.

It turned more and more apparent to the pair that they needed to develop, they usually started hiring workers. 

From meal deliveries to new grab-and-go choices on the retailer

Final month, Thongvanh and Oredson moved Dinner Dispatch into its personal industrial kitchen house tucked inside Apple Valley Procuring Heart.

Of their first everlasting location, they added a cooler with grab-and-go choices for patrons who may need missed the deadline to order meals for the week or for these wanting espresso and a snack. 

The kitchen is open and spacious with industrial-sized coolers and prep tables fewer than 10 toes from the doorway. Clients who cease inside can get a first-hand look because the Dinner Dispatch workforce prepares and assemble meals.

Oredson largely is the mastermind behind Dinner Dispatch’s greater than 250 recipes. Her visions undergo a testing committee earlier than they’re provided to prospects. 

“I’ve to actually tamp down my want to have new recipes,” Oredson stated. “My ardour is recipe improvement and tweaking. In case you depart it as much as me, I will by no means settle down. The record of recipes I am growing within the background is limitless.” 

Oredson’s favourite is the honey Sriracha Asian hen salad; Thongvanh’s the beef stroganoff. 

Whereas their enterprise is primarily focused to busy households, the pair stated the service has advanced with extra prospects gifting Dinner Dispatch meals to family and friends experiencing an sickness, childbirth or surgical procedure, which may make the chore of cooking harder. 

“Generally there’s simply by no means the proper reward,” Thongvanh stated. “Meals all the time is one thing that may be a consolation and one thing that is a blessing to must make a meal throughout a time of disaster or change. So we love seeing these presents.”

How does Dinner Dispatch work?

Meal kits are delivered weekly and are primarily based on buyer’s picks for that week. They will select as many objects as they’d like from a menu of recent and frozen meals that’s up to date every week. 

The menu contains recipes like spicy sausage and candy potato hash, roasted pork tenderloin with sugar snap pea salad or chili beef tacos. 

Costs differ by meal and serving measurement, and reductions are provided to prospects who order a month’s price of meals at a time. Supply is predicated on mileage and is capped at $10. 

Dinner Dispatch requires orders to be positioned by midnight Wednesday to be delivered the next Monday. Extra info might be discovered on-line at 

Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for the Register. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter @HRodriguez15.

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