Source Brings Healthy, On-the-Go Meals to Downtown
BY MADELINE CHRISTENSEN
Dawn Steffen’s brother Matt Zimmerman came to her with a problem: he traveled a lot for work and really needed healthier food in his life. He threw a lot of food away because he didn’t have time to cook it, and his schedule just didn’t allow him the time to maintain a healthy diet.
He wished there was a way to turn "fast food" on its head--a place that had fast, but healthy, food.
Steffen, a seasoned entrepreneur, started doing some research and came up with a business solution: Source, a grab-and-go grocer with premade, healthy meals ready to heat up and enjoy.
“I found an amazing chef and everything just started falling into place,” Steffen said. “We found our first location at 17th and Pinelake--that one has a drive-thru--and it’s just been a lot of fun growing it from nothing to four stores and 35 employees.”
Source’s first location opened in November 2014. This summer Steffen and Zimmerman opened their fourth location in downtown Lincoln at 13th and O.
Adding a location downtown was a no-brainer for Steffen.
“I love downtown’s energy,” Steffen said. “The atmosphere here is like nothing else in Lincoln.”
Even though Source was a new concept when it first opened in Lincoln, people embraced it right away.
“We were overwhelmed with support immediately to the point where my chef looked at me and said, ‘can we close the door for three days so I can get caught up?’” Steffen said. “We literally blew the doors off right away.”
Steffen believes a huge part of their success is Lincoln’s healthy community.
“I think it’s incredible the number of people I see running when it’s 20 below,” she said. “The dedication to fitness and wellness in this town is amazing, I think, compared to a lot of cities.”
Source’s business model is simple: customers stop in and grab as little or as many premade meals as they like from the cooler--all are between seven to ten dollars, made from scratch and made to last in your refrigerator for the week. Every container has a full nutrition box and ingredients listed and takes only a few minutes to heat up in a microwave.
Source also offers smoothies, snacks, desserts, and even full-blown catering.
“If you need food, I have a way of getting it to you,” Steffen said. “Unless you want it fried, that’s not my game. But my chefs love getting creative.”
Source is not a franchise, and as a Lincoln local, Steffen said they get to do their own thing every single day. Source loves the challenge of taking fried foods and cravable treats and giving them a healthy spin--and it’s no overstatement that practically everything is made from scratch.
“We have two things that come from a can: pumpkin and tuna,” Steffen said. “Even our poblano sauce is made from scratch. It started from fresh peppers that I roast, peel and grind down. All the peppers, onions, potatoes--everything is hand cut daily.”
Steffen said the future looks good for Source, and she hopes to start opening up stores in new cities.
“And for the people that are concerned about the idea that our healthy options might not taste good, I challenge you to come try it,” she said. “I have pizza. I have dessert. I have tacos. I’m somebody who personally doesn’t want to ever feel like I hate my food. All of what we make is made with the idea that if it doesn’t fix my craving, it’s not working.”