UNION SQUARE — Pick up everything you need for dinner — without leaving the subway station.
Fresh Routes, which sells to-go dinner kits, is opening a pop-up shop in the Union Square subway station offering everything families need to cook a meal at home in 30 minutes, including fresh ingredients, seasonings and recipes, said Josh Wessler, who owns the company with his girlfriend Sarah Frank.
“We love cooking and have a passion for fresh food, but we were finding it difficult with our busy schedules,” said Wessler, who launched the company as an online business in 2012. “The heart of our concept is the dinner kits. Being set up in a subway station makes it super convenient for people to pick up the kits after work or after the gym.
“They have all the pieces together and can experience the enjoyable part of putting together a meal and eating it with friends," he continued.
The pop-up shop — which is expected to open on June 12 in a 135-square-foot space inside the station near 14th Street and Fourth Avenue, which previously housed a Uniqlo shop — will offer a weekly rotating menu of three different pre-packaged dinner kits each day, including vegetarian options, a variety of cuisines and optional add-ons such as appetizers and desserts, Wessler said.
Fresh Routes' barbecue chicken skillet salad, for example, comes with raw chicken breast, whole bell peppers and summer squash, mesclun greens, lemon, a barbecue seasoning blend and step-by-step cooking instructions.
Each dinner kit costs about $34 and is designed to serve four generous portions, Wessler said. The price may vary depending on the type of protein included.
"It's a great idea," said 23-year-old Bushwick resident Eliza Dewey who was passing through the station this week. "I like cooking at home, and so do my roommates. Time is everything for people living in the city, and to have a place to grab and go would be really helpful."
Wessler and Frank work with local chefs to design new recipes every week. Some recent dishes offered on their website include madras chicken and cilantro-ginger rice, and roasted Thai coconut chicken with rice noodles.
The produce for each dish is organic as much as possible and sourced from Long Island's Satur Farms.
In addition, Fresh Routes worked with East Harlem's Hot Bread Kitchen to source the breads and pastas. The company also uses part of Hot Bread's kitchen to prepare their recipes, said 27-year-old Wessler, who lives in Central Harlem.
The pop-up shop will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays throughout the summer, and possibly through December. It will be closed on Sundays. The couple, who both have backgrounds in culinary education, are considering opening a permanent shop in the future, Wessler said.
"We are...noticing that these pop-up stores are livening the subway with more active storefronts," said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, "which we hope will pay long-term dividends by making the entire system more attractive to retailers and helping the MTA’s bottom line."