January 21, 2022
In 2021, Gopuff announced “Put Me On,” a small business accelerator program designed to help underrepresented entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The first group of participants include entrepreneurs in the beauty, home essentials, and food and beverage categories, including Charisse McGill, owner of Lokal Artisan Foods and creator of the French Toast Bites empire.
Lokal Artisan Foods is a Black- and women-owned brand that looks to embrace the desire for unique food experiences. Founded in 2018 and based in Philadelphia, PA, Lokal Artisan Foods is breaking barriers often, with Charisse being the first Black woman to own and operate a food establishment in Spruce Street Harbor Park and Cherry Street Pier on Penn’s Landing, and the first Black woman in Pennsylvania with a signature craft beer, “French Toast Bites Ale.”
Read on to learn more about Charisse and Lokal Artisan Foods.
What is your company mission and where do you want to see the company in five years?
At Lokal Artisan Foods, we embrace the desire for a unique dining experience within the foodie culture. Three years ago, we started with a fun, yet ingredient-conscious street food, French Toast Bites. Our French Toast Bites has now transcended the spice space, the craft beer space, and most recently the coffee space. I’d be paralyzing the possibilities of Lokal Artisan Foods by placing a time frame to measure success. Five years ago, I had no idea that Gopuff and NBA All-star Chris Paul would “Put Me On,” so wherever we’ll be in five years, it’s because of the work we’ve put in.
Tell us about your company’s presence in your community. Do you have strong ties to the place in which you’re headquartered? If so, what does that look like?
We have very strong ties to the city of Philadelphia, especially to teenagers and young adults. Before becoming a full-time entrepreneur, I was a hospitality management teacher in the public school system. I understand the importance of having access to opportunity. At Lokal Artisan Foods we are committed to hiring young people between 16-24 from under-served communities and pay a living wage.
Why is “Put Me On” important to you and your business?
The “Put Me On” program is the assist we needed to really score! Did you catch the basketball reference? (Ha!) Being a Black woman in the craft beer space created some innate challenges as we’re under-represented in that industry. With Gopuff’s resources, knowledge, and expertise at our disposal, “Put Me On” is invaluable. Gopuff made a commitment to carry and deliver our French Toast Bites Ale, even before it was canned. Now that it is here, another commitment has been made to expand distribution….that’s huge.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs and why?
The advice I would give to other entrepreneurs is to know the difference between what you ‘make’ and what you ‘sell.’ To clarify, we ‘make’ French Toast Bites, but that isn’t what we’re selling. By the time a customer gets to one of our locations, they have passed at least three other places to get french toast, maybe a little cheaper, maybe a little more convenient. There’s a reason customers come to us; wait in line for 20 minutes in 30-degree weather and still take a picture before they take a bite….and that is what we’re selling.
What was the last item you purchased on Gopuff? Or what is your favorite snack?
The last thing I purchased on Gopuff was the On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Rapid 10-Minute Self-Test Kit, because – well – look at the times we are in!