Healthy on the Inside
Esmie, who grew up in the borough of Queens, in New York City, relates, “When I was a student athlete I looked healthy, and one day I went to the doctor for a checkup—my blood pressure was high, cholesterol was high and it all stemmed from the type of food I was eating. I remember the doctor told me, ‘You can change what you eat.’ I was in good physical shape, but my health was horrible. Right out of college and 24 years old, I started eating more fish and less fried foods, and my numbers went down dramatically.”
That might have been enough for most people, but not Esmie. “Subsequently, I got involved into getting even more healthy and purer foods, taking out the antibiotics, the hormones, the nitrates—all the stuff that is not good for you,” he states. “It’s a process that I have evolved into at this point. My kids have no allergies because I’m not giving them stuff that can’t be processed by their own bodies.”
Esmie worked on Wall Street for 15 years with hedge funds and says, “I never liked fast food restaurants because I felt they didn’t offer the quality of food that I was accustomed to. Being physically active, I wanted to create a new, healthy restaurant concept.” But serendipity was to intervene. “Some clients of mine were creating a financial instrument to raise money for the expansion of a franchise out west. It came across my desk as a regular offering and in the process of reading the prospective, I saw ‘healthy fast food,’ which caught my attention.”
That was a watershed moment for Esmie. “I had been working on a business plan for two-and-a-half years, and was finalizing my funding,” he says. “I wanted to launch my own company and was already running a test kitchen at home. I was ready to roll out a prototype to offer baked goods, tons of organic stuff and milk shakes. My first thought was that they had stolen my idea, but these EVOS guys had already been doing it for 15 years.”
Now the action shifted into high gear. “I told my wife we needed to take a trip to their headquarters in Tampa, Florida, where we checked out the concept and ate the food, which I thought was pretty darn good. I didn’t feel sluggish after I finished eating; it was like something I would make at home on the grill. So I decided not to reinvent the wheel and go with this concept.”
He later contacted the owners and they saw the passion he had for the business because it was something he truly cared about. Esmie was granted the franchise rights to open up a few restaurants in 2009. On why he chose moving to Atlanta, he says, “The community here is very vibrant. There are lots of young families, the people that like to eat healthier. My vision is to have an EVOS accessible to everyone that wants to eat healthy.”
EVOS was started in 1994 by three partners. Esmie says, “They were sick and tired of the hum-drum burgers and fries that were not as healthy and satisfying as what they envisioned. They took an idea and pretty much said, ‘We can make burgers and fries, but we can make them healthier.’”
Instead of deep-frying food, they decided to bake it, and created a patented cooking technique called Air Bake, which uses a specially designed oven to cook the food in a way that simulates frying. One result is a dish that is all potato, with 70 percent less fat, that tastes just like a regular French fry.
EVOS sources lettuce and tomatoes from local farmers. Says Esmie, “We try to bridge the gap by offering natural and organic stuff. It’s very difficult to get everything organic. We make sure all of our meat is clean, 100 percent certified organic. We’ve made tons of headway in this field from even 10 years ago. Today, many big distributors offer 20 percent of their menu as free-range chicken or beef or other items.”
He explains that part of the challenge is ordering enough to be fully stocked without wasting too much. The situation will improve as the movement toward organic food increases, because suppliers will have a vested interest in carrying it. One of the ways Esmie keeps prices, such as a $5 hamburger, affordable is via purchase agreements with vendors that extend discounts on a series of deliveries over time.
The owners of EVOS are proud of their concept, doing extensive research when it comes to consumer preferences, and they try to strike a balance of tasty, healthy and affordable so we can all be healthy on the inside.
EVOS is located at 590 Roswell Rd., Ste. 140, in Sandy Springs. For more information, call 404-252-4022 or visit Evos.com.