How does a guy from the deep South end up opening a café in San Diego? Kris Schlesser, founder of Café Boulon, explains how it happened. “I grew up in a rural region surrounded by farmland. As a child, I spent a lot of time on farms and became an avid outdoorsman -- always fishing and hunting. A big part of the hunting and fishing community in which I was raised involved knowing how to prepare and serve the game that we harvested. There’s actually a competitive element to it that really drove me. That’s where I really started to take an interest in food preparation and feeding others.”
During a career stint on Wall Street in his 20s, Schlesser became inspired to start a food business based on what he observed. “I experienced how much of a pain it can be to maintain a healthy diet when you’re busy at work,” he recalls, “and that’s ultimately what inspired me to start a business that focuses on making it easier for people to get good food at work.”
So before there was Café Boulon, Schlesser started his first business called LuckyBolt, a lunch-delivery service that made it easier for working types to get a better lunch without ever having to leave the office. At first, LuckyBolt only offered food from restaurants. But Schlesser soon realized that there just weren’t enough restaurants making balanced meals with high-quality ingredients. He picks up the story from there. “So in 2015, we took matters into our own hands and started preparing healthy meals for our customers in a shared kitchen. Building on LuckyBolt’s success, we opened our Kitchen + Takeaway in 2018. Everything we do is driven by our mission to make it easy and affordable for people to maintain a balanced diet based on ingredients that come from local farms.”
From LuckyBolt Kitchen + Takeaway sprang the idea for Café Boulon. In fact, “boulon” means “bolt” in French. It’s the second location in the growing LuckyBolt Cooperative of cafes and eateries that Schlesser is building. “Our vision for Cafe Boulon was to take this small space and create a cafe that offers a full menu of craft food and beverage. We also wanted to provide a pleasant atmosphere where folks can have work meetings or just relax by themselves and enjoy the menu. It was a challenge to do all of this with a limited amount of space. Luckily we work with a team of talented designers that helped us make it happen.”
Schlesser says Café Boulon’s typical customer enjoys delicious food and coffee and cares about what they put into their bodies. “They want to know where their food is coming from,” he says. And even though Café Boulon may look like a small and simple café, Schlesser says there is a lot going on behind the scenes that sets it apart from other coffee shops. “We are a mission-driven company, so everything we do ties back to our mission to forge a better connection between San Diegans and our local farming community,” he explains. “Most people don’t realize that San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the entire country. The reason why people are unaware of this fact is because there’s no distribution system that supports these local farmers. LuckyBolt, and Café Boulon, is working hard to change that.”
When asked why he chose to open a café instead of a restaurant, his answer starts with coffee and ends with food. “Let’s face it,” he remarks, “everyone needs coffee and these days most people are strapped for time. So they need a source of nourishment that doesn’t require them to invest a lot of time. We’re seeing more and more third-wave coffee roasters and shops, but most of them do not offer high-quality food. We wanted to provide a one-stop shop that provides excellent coffee and food.”
The menu offers breakfast items including a Breakfast Burrito, Avocado Toast, Biscuit with Butter and Acai Bowl. For lunch, there are five varieties of sandwiches and wraps, and five salads and bowls to choose from, along with smoothies, coffees, teas and kombucha on tap from local brewers.
Schlesser sums the place up this way: Nourishment + Sanctuary = Café Boulon.
Café Boulon is located at 10945 Vista Sorrento Parkway, Suite 110 in the Sorrento Valley area. You can visit their website and check out their menu at www.cafeboulon.com. If you’re interested in getting lunch delivered from LuckyBolt, go to www.luckybolt.com.
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