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One Part Chicken, One Part Sauce, Two Parts Know How;
Vickie Shuman ’05
Combine fresh vegetables, raw meat and plenty of seasonings with a business plan from an Albright capstone course and what do you get? Vickie’05 and David Shuman’s new meal assembly business, Your Meal Ticket, in Lancaster, Pa.
This trendy alternative to dining out allows customers to order meals online and then come into the store and put together the ingredients. Your Meal Ticket freezes all of the ingredients to pick up later, and voila! A gourmet meal can be prepared at any time.
Meal assembly businesses are a far cry from nostalgic, TV dinner companies.Entrepreneur Magazine rated the industry as one of the top franchise concepts of 2005. Franchises like Let’s Eat, Dinner A’ Faire and Dream Dinners are popping up all over the country. But the Shumans, having seen ideas for similar businesses on television, knew they did not want to own a franchise.
So, in 2006, the two entrepreneurs set out to start their own company.
“We didn’t want to start a traditional restaurant,” she says. “Being busy working people, this seemed to be the perfect fit.”
The fledgling business was a not an overnight production, Vickie says. “It took nearly a year to get everything together. The whole time my husband was saying, ‘Are you done yet?’ because I’m such a perfectionist.”
Vickie, who earned a degree in business from Albright’s Accelerated Degree Completion Program (DCP), runs the office side of the business. Part of their success, she says, is attributed to the business plan she prepared for her business capstone course at Albright. “When we went to get our loan, we had no problem. The loan officer said it was the best business plan he’d ever seen.”
David runs the culinary side of the business. “It’s David’s baby,” Vickie says. He creates the menus and chooses the ingredients hoping to maintain a“diversity of flavors.” It’s “down home cooking with a gourmet flare,” Vickie says proudly.
While each month’s menu usually includes chicken, pasta, beef, pork, seafood and a vegetarian dish, the menu changes every month leaving no room for monotony. Meals are rated on a scale from “super simple” to “some cooking skill.” Vickie’s favorite dishes include raspberry chipotle pork and chili reinos casserole. Their chicken paella was in such great demand that they had to put it back on the menu. Soon, the company will be debuting cuts of Angus steak with rubs made exclusively by David.
What’s the greatest part about running Your Meal Ticket? “The customers,” says Vickie, “and everybody eats, so everyone is our customer.”
– Kellie Connors ’07