Samantha Glenn was working for Peak Refreshments, a company that provides pre-made meals and snacks for office break rooms, when the pandemic hit. With no one going to their workplaces, “we lost 60 percent of our revenue overnight,” Glenn remembers. “We started asking: ‘How do we get our meals to people at home?’”
Peak Refreshments’ answer was to launch Modern Plate in February 2021—a no-subscription, bake-at-home, family meal delivery service. During six months of research and development, Glenn, now COO of Modern Plate, tried many subscription meal services. She discovered that for some, you still had to spend time assembling and cooking what was delivered. Other meals that arrived fully prepared weren’t large enough to feed a family. Restaurant take-out and delivery could get expensive over time.
“We wanted something affordable for families, and we saw a need for bringing families together with ease and simplicity, while offering restaurant quality at home,” says Glenn. Modern Plate’s herb braised boneless short ribs with smoky mashed potatoes is a best seller; for $33.99 you get four generous portions. The white lasagna and garlic bread—$19.99 for four—is another top seller. (My family, including a teen and tween, tried the service, too. We loved the barbacoa street tacos, and my husband and I each had enough leftovers for lunch the next day.)
Offering a subscription-free service was intentional, according to Glenn. “Sometimes with a subscription, you get a meal, and you did not anticipate your schedule unfolding the way that it does, and the meal could go to waste,” she says. With Modern Plate, orders placed by 10 a.m. will be delivered the same day, or you can schedule meals in advance to be delivered on busy nights you need them the most. Meals are freshly prepared in a commercial kitchen in Aurora, then frozen for local delivery. They deliver as far north as Fort Collins, west to Morrison, east to Watkins, and south to Larkspur. “And we are not shipping across the country, so there is no extra packaging waste,” Glenn says. All meals come in recyclable/reusable aluminum pans, with cardboard components in a reusable insulated bag.
Glenn’s team learned that not everything freezes and reheats well, so deciding what to include on the menu was a process of elimination. “We asked: ‘What can we use? What should we stay away from? And how do we cook our meat so it doesn’t dry out?’” Her goal is to add three new meals per month that are as tasty as you might get from a local restaurant. “I enjoy watching [our chef] create, and I’m learning so much being a part of this,” says Glenn. “My eyes continue to be opened, and that’s half the fun.”
In 2020, Glenn enrolled in a nine-month program called the 5280 Fellowship through the Denver Institute for Faith & Work, designed for business leaders to grow both professionally and spiritually. The program challenged Glenn to think about how she could serve her community through her work, and she implemented those ideas at Modern Plate.
Currently, Modern Plate partners with local nonprofits such as Joshua’s Station to donate meals for the organization’s community dinners, an endeavor that serves families transitioning from homelessness. Plans are in the works to start a meal donation effort with the Denver Dream Center, too—an organization that helps families experiencing cycles of incarceration, poverty, addiction, and homelessness.
The company also helps raise funds for schools and organizations. Modern Plate provides marketing materials and online codes for meal orders during a certain time period; your group receives 10 percent of orders placed with the code during that time. It’s like a restaurant night fundraiser, except you don’t have to eat your meal on the designated night.
In addition, Modern Plate encourages individuals to order meals to be shipped to others, in the event of an illness or special occasion. They offer personalized note cards for such a purpose. “I’ve always enjoyed food and cooking, and I love hospitality, and bringing people together,” says Glenn. “With these meals, the mission and goal is to be hospitable without the stress.”