With offices closed, La Jollan shifts his company’s strategy to home delivery of food from local farms
Kris Schlesser wouldn’t let the coronavirus pandemic stop him or his company from providing customers with fresh food from local farms.
Schlesser, a La Jolla resident who grew up here, started LuckyBolt in 2011 to “build a community through food” and deliver lunches to people in office buildings, trying to “rewire the supply chain to connect them with small farmers.”
LuckyBolt served more than 600 meals a day, from sourcing the food locally through small farms to cooking and delivering the meals to opening brick-and-mortar cafes for people to pick up meals. “We want to control the whole customer experience,” he said.
But with the onset of the pandemic, during which most offices have sent their employees home to work, Schlesser pivoted his business model, launching home delivery immediately and currently serving about 50 households, as well as offering pickup at LuckyBolt’s Sorrento Valley location.
LuckyBolt also has started offering grocery delivery service for local produce, baking products, honey, pickled products and other items.
The challenge, Schlesser said, is going from a business-to-business approach to a business-to-customer approach, trying to raise awareness of the importance of local farms and “be the connector there.”
The pandemic is threatening local farms, Schlesser said. “It’s put a lot of wind in the sails of big delivery platforms,” he said, “but they don’t work with local farms.”
Schlesser said it’s important to patronize local farmers for several reasons. “Getting food where you know who grew it and how they grew it is important,” he said. “You are what you eat, and the reality is ... whatever the farmer put into the fields is ultimately what’s going into your body.”
San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the nation, Schlesser said, and “to have such a valuable resource right here under our nose [to which] most people are oblivious is a failure of the default food distribution system that favors large-scale farms located farther away.”
“If we don’t do something to raise awareness about these local farms and create a better mechanism that connects the community with the farms, the farms will ultimately go away,” he said. “That would be a tragedy.”
Schlesser grew interested in knowing more about his food’s origins while working in finance in New York. Raised on healthy food, he realized he’d grown out of his childhood habits.
“When people are busy, they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their diet,” Schlesser said. He moved back to San Diego and began “making the food I want to eat easy and affordable for everyone to get.”
La Jollan Amanda Esquenazi said she appreciates “the convenience and sustainability” of LuckyBolt’s food. She said she and her husband, along with their toddler, enjoy the variety of options.
“Before the [coronavirus] shutdown,” Esquenazi said, “I would go and get myself lunch pretty much every day, and now [we] go once a week to pick up a family meal.”
“We like that we know where the food is coming from,” she said.
Bird Rock resident Emily Reksten, who has patronized LuckyBolt for years, said, “We get dinner from them at least a couple of times a month,” along with weekly food deliveries.
The working mother of two said that “to know I have local food coming to me is just a godsend.”
The home delivery is “a game-changer if you’re a working parent,” she said, adding that she’s partial to the green Thai curry and desserts that LuckyBolt makes.
LuckyBolt currently works with about 10 local farms, and Schlesser said it’s “constantly working to connect with more.”
For more information, visit luckybolt.com. ◆
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