The idea for Eat 4 Later came when founder Nelson Liem saw the COVID-19 impact on Calgary businesses – particularly the restaurant industry.
With business slowed to a trickle for many city kitchens, Liem thought it would be a natural pivot to provide customers with a frozen meal option.
“Actually, my a-ha moment was walking down the grocery stores realizing that we constantly hear the message of support local, let’s keep it local,” he said.
“I was walking down the grocery aisle in the frozen food section, and it’s dominated by big corporate brands.”
Immediately, he thought there must be a platform that could create that connection between local food and local clients – but in a convenient frozen form.
He foresaw easy-to-prepare meals from some of Calgary’s favourite eateries, provided in frozen form to hungry clients.
“I made the decision, ‘OK let’s, let’s create a platform, an online food and delivery platform where we sell frozen meals, refrigerated meals and non-perishable foods that’s represented local by restaurants, caterers, chefs, food producers and food suppliers,” he said.
Liem said Eat 4 Later is perfect for families with kids, busy professionals and students. Their goal is to make mealtime easy.
They launched the business in September, and they have more than 60 local food brands to choose from.
Creating a local brand
Liem said they want to create a brand synonymous with quality and convenience in Calgary’s sizzling local food scene.
The slogan: Heat, eat and repeat.
Their online platform highlights some of the tastiest meals from many of Calgary’s favourite food providers. You browse through the meals and can narrow your choices based on food type, lifestyle or dietary needs.
Each merchant has their own online merchant portal through Eat 4 Later. Once an order is placed, the restaurant gets a text or email confirmation of the order, the meal is prepared, frozen and then picked up for delivery on Thursdays or Saturdays.
It’s a process that many people are familiar with during COVID-19. The big difference, these are local meals that simply need to be reheated. No preparation is required. Many of the food providers are using locally grown foods, too.
Liem’s been plugged into Calgary’s small business community for the past 16 years with his other venture, Exmerce. It’s still the same mission.
“It’s a different industry or sector, but it’s still very much about helping these local food companies or food brands reach out to the masses, connect with more customers to help increase their sales now,” he said.
A portion of all sales also go to Calgary’s Veteran’s Food Bank.