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Fresh People Series: Braden & Reuben of Vital Supply Co.


When it comes to freshness, at GRAIN we try to seek it in as many facets of our daily life as possible. 

Our aim with our new Fresh People Series on the Journal is to highlight people creating change in their area of business or in life, be it in food, fashion, beauty, or otherwise. We are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and work with many amazing folks who are committed to forging a fresh path in areas where the status quo simply isn't good enough, and we're looking forward to celebrating them here with you, our customers and friends. 

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We're excited to share a little bit about our friends Braden Matthews and Reuben Major at Vital Supply Co., who over the course of the past year as GRAIN partners, have demonstrated a relentless commitment to quality, not only in their sourcing (they use GRAIN products exclusively in all of their grain & legume based dishes), but in their approach to their greatest resource: their people. 

Braden and Reuben launched their company just over a year ago, and started as an online service for folks looking for healthy meals, delivered. Never happy to sit still, they just opened an in-the-flesh extension of their online brand experience, and it's easy to see that their fresh approach is also evident in the airy, clean new space.

Pull up a seat at the new Vital Blend bar in East Van and enjoy a 'Sharp Brain Coffee' (with coconut oil), and one of their super tasty, carefully sourced (and we mean that) meals or bowls. These guys don't just talk about freshness, they live it, and that's something that isn't always the case, especially in the restaurant business.   

FRESH PEOPLE Q&A: BRADEN & REUBEN OF VITAL SUPPLY CO. 

How did the two of you meet, and what are your backgrounds?

Reuben: We both worked for Earl's Restaurants together several years back. We connected when Braden assisted me on a wine media event up in Osoyoos eight or nine years ago. 

As for our full professional backgrounds, it goes like this: 

Reuben:

  • 22 years in the restaurant industry, 18 spent with Earl's Restaurants. The last 6 years there 2007 - 2013, Director of Culinary + Bar Development.
  • 2011 - started FreshTAP Pour Systems + Vancouver Urban Winery
  • 2014 - opened Belgard Kitchen + Postmark Brewing
  • 2015 - launched Vital Supply Co.
  • 2017 - opened Vital Cafe + Blend Bar

Braden:

  • 10 years in the restaurant industry, including Earl's Head Chef roles at Port Coquitlam and North Vancouver
  • 2015 - launched Vital Supply Co.
  • 2017 - opened Vital Cafe + Blend Bar

What led you to create Vital Supply Co, and now Vital Blend Bar? 

Reuben: Maximizing human performance, often from a coaching standpoint has long been a passion of mine. I've had an ongoing interest in the health food industry and at one point was working on creating a "one-stop-shop" health and wellness facility that would allow people to solve all of their ailments under one roof (massage, RMT, physio, personal training, etc.), with the access to healthy food being the anchor. Eventually, things evolved into looking for a wider audience and implementing the subscription model into the business plan.

Braden: As a sous chef (and eventually chef) working long hours in the kitchen and often until late at night, I always found it frustrating to have no late night food options that were healthy. And when I did get home, the last thing I wanted to do was cook (again). Initially, our third business partner, Mack Davis and I wanted to open a healthy fast food restaurant with a drive-thru. As we started to research the business opportunities, we realized what great potential there was for the online business model and Vital Supply Co. was born.

Vital Blend Bar was a move we believed we needed to make in order to become more than simply a website. People tend to fear commitment and want to test drive our product before they sign up for a subscription.The cafe has become a great educational venue for the online brand. We also see our style of cafe as a bit of a gap in the market and we aim to open many more!

Tell us about your fresh approach to ingredients, as we know you don’t cut corners which is so common in this industry. 

Reuben: Our sourcing philosophy is extremely important to us. We source local and organic whenever possible, with a focus on ensuring our ingredients travel the shortest possible distance. On top of that, we look for producers who are passionate about what they do, and who farm and cultivate sustainably, and with honesty and integrity.

Do you do anything differently in your approach to team building? You’ve grown a lot in a short period of time. How have you found success in building a motivated team? 

Braden: Human capital is the most important asset we have and that is not lost on us. In the growth phase, giving people the opportunity to work as hard as they wish while not burning them out is a delicate balance. One of the great things about our business is that we're working in a relatively new segment where the style of food we're creating aligns well with many people who want to eat a certain way. This has been great for our recruiting abilities and we hope that we will continue to attract people who are in tune with where their food comes from and how it is prepared. 

What is the biggest surprise you’ve had since starting Vital? 

Reuben: We set out to make healthy eating easy and accessible - essentially to be a healthy food company - and soon realized to be successful, we would need to be equal parts tech and logistics, neither of which the three founders are experts in. 



Experience Vital Supply Co. for yourself, by visiting their website here
We are constantly impressed by their fresh, innovative menu options. Want to try the experience in person first? Head to Vital Blend Bar at 686 Powell St in East Vancouver. It's the perfect place to stop in for a smoothie or quick meal either pre or post North Shore adventure, or just for a weekday lunch with a girlfriend. 

Find them on Instagram here and here. Get Reuben's Roasted Beet Hummus recipe here


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