We had the good fortune of connecting with the co-founders of Alfalfa, and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrew, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
We were childhood friends who came together to solve an immediate need for healthier and balanced dining in our community. While we all had varying
corporate jobs, we each had a deep entrepreneurial passion that set us on
our path to creating Alfalfa. Ultimately we each left our roles and began to
create the foundation of the business, including being incredibly scrappy and
deciding to start our business at a local farmers market to test our concept.

What was your thought process behind starting your own business?
We were childhood friends who came together to solve an immediate need
for healthier and balanced dining in our community. While we all had varying
corporate jobs, we each had a deep entrepreneurial passion that set us on
our path to creating Alfalfa. Ultimately we each left our roles and began to
create the foundation of the business, including being incredibly scrappy and
deciding to start our business at a local farmers market to test our concept.

Do you have a budget? How do you think about your personal finances and how do you make lifestyle and spending decisions?
When we began Alfalfa, we were laser focused on testing our concept for
healthy food that we would enjoy in our community through a very lean pilot
at a Farmer’s Market, so our budget was completely bootstrapped based on
our limited savings from our corporate careers. As the company grew, we
were fortunate to have mostly bootstrapped it through the first 3 years,
remaining focused on reinvesting profits back into the business to accelerate
its growth and fulfill its potential.

Risk taking: How do you think about risk? What role has taking risks played in your life/career?
Entrepreneurship will always be risky, and that drives a certain level of passion
for us that gets us out of bed everyday and makes even the hardest days
worth the effort, because we deeply believe in our mission to inspire joy
through balance and because we’re inspired by the broader Alfalfa team that
brings this mission to life everyday through our real food and delightful
customer experiences. We took a risk in leaving our day jobs and beginning
the Alfalfa journey at a small Farmer’s Market stand. That said, we knew that if
we didn’t take the risk to try our concept, we would regret it for the rest of our
lives. We also held on to the idea that even if we failed, we would learn a
tremendous amount, and felt confident that the learnings would translate into
value in any future endeavor, and that ultimately risk and reward go hand in
hand.

Where are you from and how did your background and upbringing impact who you are today?
We grew up very close to NYC in New Jersey. We each had varying degrees of
immigrant influence in our lives which led us to be incredibly motivated,
hard-working, persevering individuals who know the importance of family,
kindness and creating opportunities for those around us. These are all traits
that we contribute to Alfalfa, as we aim to inspire joy in the communities we
serve.

What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand?
It is the passion that we bring each and every day to bring our mission to life,
because our mission is infectious. We strongly believe that everyone is on a
journey to seek out balance in their lives. If we can consistently inspire joy
through a balanced meal of a delicious salad and a gluten free doughnut
delivered through a delightful customer experience, and make our customers’
lives a little bit better each day, we will be on a path to success.
b. Additionally, we bring a meticulous focus to detail in our daily operations and
are significantly tech-forward in our approach to delivering joyful experiences
to our customers everyday. Today, this takes the shape of a delightful native
Alfalfa app that helps our customers experience our food anywhere they are,
as well as AI-driven daily fresh food preparation procedures. Tomorrow, the
sky’s the limit for how we can leverage the latest technology to fulfill our
mission.

What value or principle matters most to you? Why?
Alfalfa’s core values guide our team everyday. They are: (1) customer
obsession (delighting our customers), (2) one team one dream (always
building each other up), (3) hustle (we’re here to make a difference), (4) see
something, do something (taking an active role daily), (5) good vibes (they’re
contagious)

Work life balance: How has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
We place balance at the forefront of our mission, vision and purpose.
Personally we always strive to continue to make time for things we are
passionate about, from spending time with our families and significant others,
to our daily workout routines, and hangouts with friends. As Alfalfa has grown, we strongly believe that balance should always play an important part of our lives and we try to instill those values into our team. As a brand, we see
balance as providing our communities with balanced food and joyful experiences. We believe that cultivating health can look like tasty salads or healthy doughnuts – it’s important to recognize and cherish both.

What’s the end goal? Where do you want to be professionally by the end of your career?
We believe Alfalfa has a tremendous opportunity to inspire joy in many
communities, and to expand access to real food in a balanced way.
Professionally, we aim to fulfill Alfalfa’s potential by building a powerful team of
driven individuals and leading them on the expansion of the mission.

Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
We chose the food industry because we love the fact that food brings people
together and creates lasting memories.
i. As a kid, Dan Sobsey grew up around food with his dad owning a local
organic produce shop in Hoboken NJ.
ii. When Andrew lived in LA for a few years, he was exposed to the many
different cuisines the city had to offer. There were components of LA
dining that were missing in our town in New Jersey.
iii. Dan Londono was excited by the opportunities to innovate in the
restaurant industry, having worked in management consulting after
college and studying many industries, and thinking back to his
experience as a waiter and busboy in high school

Tell us about a book you’ve read and why you like it / what impact it had on you?
We take inspiration from many books and publications from countless
entrepreneurs and thought leaders who have come before us. Danny Meyer’s
thinking on hospitality in Setting the Table guides a lot of teamwide
decision-making, focused on how we make our guests feel. Daily execution of
our mission drives inspiration from Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership, which
has a surprising level of applicability in the day-to-day activities of the
restaurant industry.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whenever people visit us, we love to take them to our favorite local beaches in Santa Monica, along with some of the nice beaches in the South Bay & Malibu. We enjoy staying outdoors and going on fun hikes like the Los Leones trail or Temescal Canyon Trail. For food, aside from Alfalfa, we love taking visitors to places like Felix, Pasjoli, Mozza, Nobu, and Erewhon if we want to keep it more casual. LA is such a special place that offers many culinary experiences.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The co-founders (Andrew, Dan, Dan), would like to shoutout our family, friends, mentors and customers who have supported us through our entire journey. Without them we are nothing, and we are deeply thankful for them.

Website: www.eatalfalfa.com

Instagram: @eatalfalfa

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/eatalfalfa/

Twitter: @eatalfalfa

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatalfalfa/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/alfalfa-santa-monica?uid=U1GgmJ7pzcFEtIpsVZC9Aw&utm_campaign=www_business_share_popup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

Image Credits
Anthony Galasso

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.