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Meet Hannah Bae of SQUAREMEAL

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Bae.

Hannah, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
SQUAREMEAL started with a conversation between my cousin (an ESL teacher) and me over lunch. She brought up the issue that students at her school did not have easy access to diverse food options. Cafeterias are full of greasy fast food and if students want fresh, healthy meals, parents are forced to either pack lunch or look to delivery services like Postmates or Ubereats which can get expensive or unreliable with delivery times.

It made me think about how limited my lunch options were growing up and how I strongly believe in the importance of access to fresh, healthy, delicious meals. I work with hip, local restaurants to create custom-sized meals, perfect for students. We make sure the complete meals are packaged perfect and travel well in a hot bag so that they are delivered tasting delicious.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road was overall smooth but there were quite a few bumps. The smoothest part was the support from the community. Schools, parents, and restaurants loved the idea of having diverse food options and seemed excited and supportive of SQUAREMEAL which kept me going. The bumps along the way were more personal struggles.

I quit my full-time job and started working part-time at night so that I can focus on SQUAREMEAL during normal business hours. It definitely took a toll on my personal life. My family seemed extremely concerned about me taking this risk and my boyfriend at the time hated the fact I that I was physically unavailable. I knew, however, especially at this time, this was something I needed to pursue, and I’m glad I did.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
SQUAREMEAL delivers restaurant quality food to kids at school. We take all the convenience of a food delivery service but add the freshness, taste, and overall quality of LA’s hippest local restaurants. We carefully handpick the menu to only offer meals that travel well, stay at safe temperatures, and taste delicious, all in beautiful, eco-friendly packaging.

We take our orders in advanced until 9 am the morning of delivery, order in meals in bulk from restaurants, and drop off at the campus at the designated top off time. All this allows us to keep the lunches affordable for students. We offer a wide variety of international cuisines like Pad Thai and Filipino rice bowls, as well as classic American staples like organic burgers and vegan quinoa bowls. We also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available!

What were you like growing up?
I am a proud Los Angeles native. I was born in Los Feliz and grew up in a conservative family from Arcadia, so it came as a bit of a shock when I decided to start my own business. I was always a bit shy but kind to everyone, a bit stubborn, and extremely hardworking. My parents and two brothers taught me the value of hard work and have strong morals and character.

I played the piano, became a 2nd-degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, and dabbled in theater. During college, I worked as a waitress and fell in love with the energy of the food industry. Soon after graduating UC Irvine, I went into restaurant management and moved back to Los Angeles to manage for one of the hottest restaurant groups in the world. After a few years of working for different successful hospitality groups in LA, I became inspired and eager to start my own business, so I started SQUAREMEAL.

Pricing:

  • Meals range from $6.50-11
  • Delivery fee is $1.99 per meal

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ashley Bright

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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