Alumni in food service say, “Hale, Yeah” to healthy options

May 16, 2014
By Chris Saunders

Tyler Helikson remembers last August and the early days of Happy + Hale, a healthy option food delivery service in downtown Raleigh.

He and business partner Matt Whitley had just turned their vision into a company. There was nobody else but them and one line cook in a kitchen. The summer was bearing down on them as they took turns operating a juice tricycle on the corner of Hargett and Fayetteville streets.

Tyler Helikson, left, and Matt Whitley, right.

Tyler Helikson, left, and Matt Whitley, right.

And then there was the delivery of Happy + Hale’s juices and salads, which could prove tricky with everything from a golf cart that might die to dangerous Raleigh traffic.

“I remember one time I was using Matt’s car for delivery, and a city bus came by and took off the door when I had opened it,” says Helikson, who graduated from NC State in 2007 with a communications degree. “But we looked at the vision  and the lives we impacted, and we knew it would be okay.”

Helikson, 29, and Whitley, 26, have grown Happy + Hale into a downtown mainstay, offering healthy food in a quick way. They now have seven full-time employees, and that number will double in mid-June when the pair opens the company’s first brick and mortar store.

It’s the culmination of of a dream for Helikson and Whitley, who also attended NC State, who never strayed from what they saw as the bigger picture to the business.

“There was a serious need for and lack of quick healthy and delicious food in Raleigh,” says Helikson, a Charlotte native. “We knew as long as we continued to put in the hours and connected with a lifestyle choice, we would succeed.”

salad-hero

The idea first came to Helikson when he was traveling around the country in a previous job, selling champagne for Moet Hennessey. That experience gave him time to see other cities, like Los Angeles, Austin and Portland, Ore., that he says are ahead of the curve with flourishing downtown cultures. And it hit him that similar delivery options in those cities would take off in Raleigh.

“Raleigh’s one of those cities growing rapidly,” he says. “You have an influx of young, healthy, progressive people who are conscientious about their health.”

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