Suppose you have a personal chef. But this chef is also a nutritionist. She not only knows your tastes, but also your allergies, your exercise regimen, and your target weight. Best of all, your chef delivers each meal to your door, and all you have to do is heat it up.
That’s the idea behind Good4U, a culinary start-up headquartered in Warren. Now a year old, Good4U is the brainchild of two health-conscious women: Cindie DeMello, a personal trainer of 25 years, and Tanya DiMarco, a seasoned cook.
“Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand,” says DeMello. “You can’t be a personal trainer and know absolutely nothing about nutrition. The number one thing preventing people from achieving their goals is the food. Cooking, eating – that’s where people tend to slide a little.”
DeMello and DiMarco met in Rhode Island about a decade ago, and they worked intermittently together before becoming a romantic couple. As part of her fitness program, DeMello offers rigorous boot camps for clients with ambitious fitness goals. During one of her two-week boot camps, DeMello hired a chef.
“Those people saw such amazing results,” DeMello recalls. And exercise was only half the story: “The results are amazing because of the nutritional component.”
This epiphany prompted DeMello to study culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University. When she finished the program in 2015, she and DiMarco felt ready to combine their skills – and Good4U was born.
Meal delivery services have become popular across the country, from couriers like Uber Eats to meal kits like HelloFresh. But Good4U claims its own niche: They only deliver in Rhode Island, mostly in the East Bay, and feed between 40 and 50 regular customers. Meals are packed into cooler bags, and two dedicated drivers drop them off in their own cars. The menu rotates regularly, and customers can customize ingredients according to their needs.
“We like to listen to our clients,” says DiMarco. “They say, ‘I wish you had this,’ and we try to work that into our menu. We try to keep things interesting.”
The actual cooking takes place at Hope & Main in Warren. They procure most of their ingredients from local growers, and they rent a commercial kitchen for whipping up their dishes. As business partners, DeMello plays the driven entrepreneur and DiMarco serves as general manager. As life partners, spending so much time together can be challenging, but they’ve found ways to integrate work and personal time. DeMello says that she never cooks at home, but she frequently makes extra servings at Hope & Main.
Now that they’ve survived their first year, DeMello is excited about Good4U’s next phase.
“We want more clients ordering our food – that’s the main goal,” she says. DeMello hopes to collaborate with physicians, weight-loss specialists, and gyms, buy a company van, and deliver to every corner of the state.
“I would like to work even more closely with our customers,” she muses. “There are a whole slew of clients we’ve never actually met. I wish I could sit down with every single one of them and talk about their likes and dislikes, about their nutritional goals. Going into it, I thought, ‘I’ve been a business owner for so many years, I can do this.’ But the food industry is very different. There are a lot of walls you have to break through. I’m learning a lot.”