The seed for the idea that became Grit Grocery, Dustin Windham’s mobile market, started when he was living in Azerbaijan and volunteering with the Peace Corps.
“It was a food-awakening moment,” said Windham, CEO of Grit. “There was no Uchi, no Pappadeaux. I went to the market and bought from the local baker, the local butcher. When I cooked from scratch I felt better and lost weight. I bought smaller volumes more frequently. It was the right way to interact with food.”
The business that Windham launched almost a year ago with Michael Powell, Emily Jaschke and Maggie Nemetz started as a Rice University business school plan and evolved into a meal delivery service – in the vein of HelloFresh and Blue Apron, except Grit sells beer and wine, too – with trucks that also bring groceries to area neighborhoods. Last month, they added the Heights to their roster.
The Houston Heights Association helped get them connect with the Church at 1548 Heights, and Grit Grocery is now a fixture on Heights Boulevard.
“We are fresh groceries available through a flexible retail model,” Windham said.
While Windham has a background in business and supply chain management, Powell, the director of marketing, formerly worked for a grocery consulting group in Los Angeles where he helped design store layout.
Food partners in the endeavor include Brazos Valley Cheese, Brenham Kitchens, Fabio’s Artisan Fresh Pasta, Gundermann Acres, Katie’s Seafood Market and the Texas Pickle Company. Offerings are dye and preservative free with no pesticides or hormones.
“Bread that lasts for a month is not bread,” Windham said.
Customers can buy groceries through the company’s website, https://gritgrocery.com, as well as bundles which are meal ingredients with easy-to-follow instructions. Options include Shrimp and Grits, Red Snapper and Lemon Cous, and Chimichurri Steak & Salad. There are a small number of bundles to choose from to make things quick and easy for the customer. The variety comes from the seasonal rotation of bundle offerings.
There’s no subscription required for Grit, which offers meal bundles serving two to three people with a cost between $7-$10 per serving.
Windham asserts that all of the meals are “dummy proof.”
“You don’t have to be a chef to do food,” he said. “There are no obscure ingredients. We’re not playing games.”
In addition to the Heights, Grit brings its truck to locations in Downtown Houston, East Downtown and the Museum District.
“It’s a different shopping experience,” Windham said. “The truck is another way to engage with people and to promote what we do. We’re more visible.”
Windham said the increased visibility in the area is translating to increased sales online.
“People have seen us in the area,” he said. “We have a very good crowd.”