If a new San Francisco startup has its way, your excuses for eating a quick, unhealthy lunch will soon be null and void.

David Landsel
October 17, 2017

By all appearances, the new leCupboard on San Francisco's Church Street is just another impossibly cute place for the Noe Valley crowd to congregate—the mood is happy, the ambiance light and airy, the menu 100% plant-based and organic. Avocado toast for breakfast, zucchini noodles with walnut pesto for lunch, coconut yogurt parfaits for anytime.

But this isn't just another cafe—it's the launching pad for a well-funded startup. (It's San Francisco, don't be surprised.) Founder Lamiaa Bounahmidi's ultimate goal is to make healthy eating as easy as grabbing a fast food burger on the run. How to do this? By stocking vending machines with leCupboard's healthy, highly-portable eats, and rolling them out all over San Francisco.

At a time when more than 60 percent of American office workers have confessed to skipping the traditional lunch break and instead just eating something quickly at their desk, Bounahmidi's idea appears to be resonating—the company already has 15 "cupboards" scattered around San Francisco—for now, they're in test-friendly, semiprivate locations such as co-working spaces, but the next step is to go wide; soon, the masses will be able to sample leCupboard's clever, vegetable-forward dishes like a vegan beet poke, as well as healthily decadent offerings like a chocolate mousse with raspberries, pistachios and a dash of sea salt. One reporter tried both dishes, pronouncing them shockingly good.

If the idea of sourcing your quinoa salad from a machine sounds somewhat familliar, it's not the first time it's been tried—Eatsa, which now has seven locations across the country, is another San Francisco concept, operating out of storefronts with a skeleton staff that you mostly don't see. Ordering is via tablet or app, with your (surprisingly good, and typically very affordable) food being placed in futuristic little cubbies, once it is ready. At leCupboard, the concept gets even more stripped down, with the staff at homebase creating the food to be delivered three times daily to a growing number of remote cupboards. May the best salad robot win.