John Marks is hoping to help people eat healthy foods and do so in a more convenient way with a business he recently started in Vernon Hills.
Fit Healthy Foods offers fresh, prepared meals — including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — that either can be picked up at three locations or delivered to customers' homes.
"We're almost like a personal chef for people that don't want to cook or can't," said Marks, a Deerfield resident.
Marks got the idea to start Fit Healthy Foods after visiting a store in Houston. Marks, who helps manage professional boxer Mike Lee, went to visit Lee in Houston. Lee's roommate worked at a store that offers prepared meals in a series of refrigerators.
"I'd been looking for a business to start for a while," said Marks. "I said, 'This is a fabulous idea. Why isn't this in Chicago?' "
Marks performed more research about a year ago and ultimately put together his own business plan. Fit Healthy Foods officially launched online a week ago. Having worked in the computer business for more than 20 years — including as one of the first four employees at CDW — Marks was ready for the computer-based business.
The food is prepared by the chefs and sous chefs who are employed by Marks' friend, who owns a business that caters to parties and corporate events. For a $50 minimum purchase, the food can be delivered to a customer's home or can be picked up at in Deerfield or Ross Discount in Highland Park. The food also can be picked up at the corporate kitchen, 950 Woodlands Parkway, Vernon Hills.
Fit Healthy Foods offers a variety of items, from frittatas and pancakes for breakfast to chicken carbonara and seafood jambalaya for dinner. So far, the vegetable lasagna and brisket are among the favorite dishes. The full menu is available on the Fit Healthy Foods website.
Marks said his goal is to offer specialized meal plans for various diet needs, including vegetarian, low-fat/low-calorie, low-carb, gluten-free, nondairy and for individuals with diabetes. He is enlisting the assistance of a wellness coach and dietitian.
"We want people to eat well and to be healthy and stay healthy," said Marks. "I've had a weight issue my whole life. I've never been fat but I've never been thin. I'm an expert eater. I know when I'm not eating well."
With Fit Healthy Foods, Marks said, customers can expect fresh ingredients.
"Our food is chef-quality. It's restaurant-quality food," he said.
First-time customers on the Fit Healthy Foods site can receive $5 in Fit Bucks, which can be redeemed toward a $50 minimum purchase. In addition, people also can opt in to donate $1 to the Rory Deutsch Foundation for brain tumor research.
Marks hopes eventually to open Fit Healthy Foods stores around the Chicago area.