One of the things I love about Portland is the way people follow their passion. Portland isn't just a town of great ideas, it's a place where people put their ideas into motion. One such great idea is SoupCycle which serves fresh, organic and locally made soups by bicycle. I was so intruged by this business I decided to talk to one of the companies founders Jed Lazar about SoupCycle (a full review of the service with pics will come soon).
How did you get the idea for Soup Cycle?
We heard about someone in Texas who tried to deliver soup by bicycle. He made it work for a while, but eventually switched to delivering by truck. To Shauna and I – this was the perfect challenge. We knew it could be done and wanted to prove that bicycles are a feasible form of cargo transportation within cities.
Because it's perfect! There are great, tasty soups for every season of the year that use local vegetables.
Why Portland? Does SoupCycle fit Portland better than other cities?
Definitely. This city values healthy foods and healthy lifestyles. We all want to eat scrumptious foods that are good for us, but who has time to put together healthy meals every day? SoupCycle is a Soupscription- it's one healthy meal a week that our customers don't have to worry about. Plus, the city's bicycle network makes bicycle-delivery possible.
How does the expense of a Soupscription compare to other dinner options people can order?
A Soupscription is almost always less than going out to a restaurant, and a lot of times it's less than cooking for yourself. When you make a recipe at home you typically have to buy a lot of new ingredients. If you're like me, you go to the store to shop for dinner and end up spending way more than you meant to. Our soups are $9 for two full servings, or $18 for soup, rustic bread and fresh salad for two people. And that's for organic foods made with local ingredients and delivered by bicycle to you! It doesn't get better than that. Our prices are low because we don't rent an expensive retail space. We just do deliveries, and that keeps our costs down.
How far in advance do you determine what soups you are going to make?
Two weeks in advance.
Do your customers ever submit soup recipes?
They do! I've got a great recipe for hearty chicken and potato soup I've been meaning to make that a customer sent me recently.
What's your favorite soup? Why?
My favorite soup is The Democratic Republic of Peanut Chicken. It's an African peanut chicken stew that's hearty beyond belief and full of tasty goodness.
What's been the biggest challenge for SoupCycle so far?
We've been working for a while on a project to switch the containers we use. Right now, we're using recyclable plastic containers, but we'd really like to be using more durable containers that we can reclaim from customers each week, wash and reuse. We've had some difficulty finding a good solution that meets all our needs, but we haven't given up yet.
Has there been a moment that's made you feel that all the hard work is all completely worth it?
Honestly, I feel like that most of the time. This is a great city to own a small business. People bike by us on the Hawthorne Bridge and tell us they like what we're doing. Our customers love the soups, and it makes my day when I get an emails like the one I got last week: "We love the soup! My family always looks forward to Tuesdays". A few weeks ago made our 3,000th bicycle-soup delivery and we feel really good about that. Yep, it's a lot of work to own a small business, but there have been plenty of rewards.
Right now you deliver Soup, Salad and Bread. Any plans to deliver other kinds of products along with the soup?
We may eventually. We love to hear recommendations from your readers.
Where do you get your ingredients from?
We get most of our ingredients from Ladybug through Organically Grown Company.
How many people do you currently have delivering soup?
Just myself and our delivery Souper Hero Jen.
What kind of bikes do you use?
I've got a recumbent with an electrical assist. Jen uses a regular upright bicycle.
SoupCycle delivers locally made organic soups on a weekly basis starting at $18 (including fresh bread and salad). They offer vegan, vegetarian and meated options all delivered by bike!
More info on SoupCycle: