New Restaurant Herban Quality Eats is a True University City Enterprise

Feb 16, 2016 4 years ago

The market for healthy fast casual food continues to grow in University City. In the past few years, the neighborhood has added a sweetgreen, a HipCityVeg, a Hai Street Kitchen, and honeygrow, and more are on the way. A new entry to the fray is Herban Quality Eats, an establishment aiming to provide fresh, fast, and healthy options to Penn and Drexel students plus the large growing base of office, lab, and hospital workers.

Two health-conscious Penn grads, Amir Fardshisheh and Kalefe Wright, found themselves craving warm, hearty meals that went beyond salads and vegetarian offerings when they conceived of Herban Quality Eats. “The premise for Herban was simple,” says Fardshisheh. “We wanted to be able to eat healthy food that’s nutrient-rich and thoughtfully raised and prepared.” Inspired by today’s food trends, delicious vegetables, lean proteins, and unrefined carbs, the duo sought to offer home-style platters of similar stature: affordable, simple dishes made with fresh, clean ingredients.

Fardshisheh and Wright brought on local chef Chris Paul, a Drexel alum who has worked for Stephen Starr’s Parc and Chifa by Jose Garces. Paul helped the duo bring their idea to life and created a menu that offers diners an opportunity to build a custom platter. At Herban, diners can pick a base, choose a protein, and add a sauce for flavor, then add two sides for a well-balanced meal ranging range from $8 to $12. “Eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore,” continues Fardshisheh. “People assume if you’re an omnivore you don’t care about being healthy, but we think there needs to be something for the average meat eater.”

Next they needed a location.

“There’s something really exciting about University City,” Fardshisheh says. “We all went to school here and we realized University City was this hidden gem.” The Herban team was attracted by the proximity to Penn and Drexel, and saw the success of other similar concepts geared toward health-conscious customers. Before settling on their location at 3601 Market Street, Fardshisheh and Wright even posed as potential undergrads so they could take a tour of Drexel and learn about the food options, and realized there was a hunger for something in the area beyond pizza, subs, and Chinese food.

While waiting for the space, which is on the ground floor of a brand new building, to be operational, they decided to first test out their concept first as a delivery service. They again drew on University City resources and secured kitchen space at The Enterprise Center’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE), a local resource that supports both established and start-up food businesses and food processors in need of commercial kitchen space and technical assistance. Working out of the CCE kitchens, Herban offered delivery of fresh food within a half hour and built a customer base by attending group meetings of clubs, sororities, and other student groups. They then closed down that operation in the summer to prepare for the opening of their physical location, which celebrated its grand opening in December.

Now that they’ve been operational for a few months, they say the appeal of their location comes from being situated between Penn and Drexel, and also close to the employees of the Science Center. They don’t simply want to stop there, however: Next up, Fardshisheh and Wright want to go beyond providing healthy food options and plan to offer classes and workshops on what constitutes healthy eating for different diets and goals. They aim to offer workshops free of charge to start, and use their store space during down times between lunch and dinner. “Not everyone who diets wants the same thing,” says Fardshisheh. “Some people want to build muscle, others want to lose fat. We’ve come up with a menu that will help different people achieve their individual health goals, and we want to offer advice, too.”

The mission at Herban Quality Eats is to make nutritious taste delicious in a place where passion, motivation and education cross paths. The team is out to make wholesome eating fun and approachable and to also build relationships in the community.

Herban is open 11am to 9pm, Monday through Friday, with delivery from 5-9. To learn more or order online, visit their website at www.herbanqualityeats.com, or call 267.281.8920.

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