Health Binge merges grab-and-go convenience and healthy food

Gerome Sapp is confident his Health Binge will succeed where other healthy-food concepts have failed — in large part because it’s been years in the making.

Health Binge is a retail grab-and-go concept that merges healthy foods and good eating. All of the offerings at the shop near Jones Boulevard and the 215 Beltway are gluten-free and low in calories; many are dairy-free, vegetarian and/or vegan.

“The initial idea came when I was in business school at Harvard,” said Sapp, who was playing in the National Football League while he earned his MBA in 2005-2006.

During one class, the instructor told the students they had an hour to come up with a business concept.

“I was starving at the time,” Sapp recalled. “Man, I don’t want to eat this vending-machine food.”

Sapp thought back to his days as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, where he had created a grab-and-go concept for athletes before he was drafted into the NFL in 2003.

“At that time in my life, I’d been in the NFL for two years and I’d been exposed to meal prep,” Sapp said. He also had teammates who had personal chefs, and he was impressed with how those chefs were able to apply healthful principles to food that tasted good.

His project idea was to combine the convenience of fast food with the nutritional aspects of meal prep and the gourmet flavors of personal chefs. But initially, that’s as far as it went.

After walking away from professional football in 2009 (“I got tired of hitting people for a living”), Sapp returned to his hometown of Houston, where he learned of a company called My Fit Foods.

“They’re my idea, on steroids,” Sapp said of the company, which has numerous outlets in Texas and Oklahoma but never moved into the West.

Which Sapp found himself doing three years ago, when he moved to Las Vegas after Tony Hsieh invested in his tech company. Still, the idea lingered: “If I ever get out of tech …”

Las Vegas, he thought, seemed like the perfect market for the project.

“People are on the go and in the industry here,” he said. “With a lot of their contracts, they have to maintain a certain physical appearance. And there are a lot of ex-athletes that live in and come to Vegas.” The city also has one of the youngest populations among the markets he studied.

“That was the start of it,” he said. “Sure enough, I got out of my tech company.”

One of the first steps was to hire a “dynamic chef,” Jackie McMahan. They set about working on a menu, with dishes that would be healthful — and all of them gluten-free.

“We can’t sell flatbreads and celery,” Sapp said. “People want more.”

And Health Binge’s menu certainly offers it: blackened shrimp and grits, asparagus white omelet, chicken garam masala, ancho chili bison enchiladas, Japanese meatloaf, vegetarian stuffed peppers, a vegan Southwest veggie bowl, a molten lava chocolate cake. In all, more than 40 selections, including a short kids’ menu.

The cuisine, he said, is American with Caribbean and Southern aspects.

Health Binge opened in mid-December at 6040 W. Badura Ave. The refrigerated cases of grab-and-go packages lining the walls are arranged chronologically, starting with breakfast and moving into lunch and dinner entrees, with a special section for vegan and vegetarian choices and one for snacks, kids and desserts. A wall chart explains the color-coding of proteins. There also are cold-pressed juices, made under the Health Binge label by a company in San Diego.

“The second day we opened, they sold out,” Sapp said.

Like all other aspects of his plan, he chose the location carefully. Health Binge shares a parking lot with a busy Starbucks, and there are both neighborhoods and a sprawling industrial park nearby.

He’s well aware that lots of other healthy-food concepts have failed.

“I’m a big believer in the psychology of things,” Sapp said. “I want to know why something worked or didn’t work. It’s always the simplest things that make you go out of business. This business wasn’t something I just woke up and thought about.”

One of the most important elements, he said, is a central kitchen, which helps control costs, quality and efficiency. Another is the grab-and-go convenience, and here Sapp is supported by research: In a recent study by food-trends research firm Datassential, 53 percent of consumers said they’re buying more supermarket-prepared foods than they did a year ago.

He test-marketed for two months before opening his doors, sometimes delivering foods to potential clients, although many started coming to the central kitchen.

“Before I got the retail aspect started, I started making more money than I had in all my other businesses,” he said.

Sapp said Health Binge isn’t locked onto one demographic, and isn’t focused on people who spend all their spare time in the gym.

“The person who wants to change the way they work out, eat, live, that’s our sweet spot,” he said. “We’re not trying to ride a wave of ‘what’s next.’ I see this as a brand that helps people.”

He is, however, negotiating with a chain of gyms, and has had talks with MGM Resorts International and prepared meals for the sales staff of Gaudin Ford.

The grab-and-go aspect is a big issue for David Schreiber, a Health Binge regular.

“It’s convenient for me,” Schreiber said. “Between me and my girlfriend, I used to spend $350 a week just on groceries, and then you still have to make it. Now, when I go to the grocery store I basically buy eggs, milk and bread.”

Most Health Binge dishes range from $7.50 to $11, depending on size and contents.

Schreiber said he also likes the variety.

“They have a good mix of stuff,” he said. “It’s not just rice, chicken and broccoli. Gluten-free isn’t really a thing for me. Protein content, good food, that’s my main requirement.”

Sapp said he has sufficient capital and patience, and is prepared for the long haul it might take to make Health Binge a success.

“This is my new competition in life,” he said. Like in the NFL, “all I can do is prepare for it. We just roll with the punches.

“This is a brilliant opportunity, if we do it right.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Find more of her stories at www.reviewjournal.com, and follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like