Balanced Chef celebrates grand opening with ribbon cutting
Healthy eating entrepreneur Brian Donovan celebrated a grand opening for a second location of his Balanced Chef business on Thursday. It is located next to the Fitness Mill in the Live It! Downtown building on Oriskany Boulevard.
“Businesses like this are changing the complexion of West Utica,” said Robert Palmieri, Mayor of Utica. Mayor Palmieri noted that the location had been a brownfield (an area requiring environmental remediation to remove pollutants) in past years but is now home to “vibrant businesses that are generating a lot of activity.”
The mayor also supports Balanced Chef because it provides “healthy fabulous food.
Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce members joined Donovan, and other elected officials gathered behind a ceremonial ribbon. The chamber’s executive director, Kari Puleo, noted the business’s variety of products: “They’ve got protein shakes, smoothies, acai bowls; all nutritious balanced meals ready for busy people on the go.”
Puleo also noted that the casual coffee house decor provided customers with “a calm and beautiful environment [place] to relax.”
Assemblywoman Marianne Buttonschon presented Donovan with a plaque that read, “On behalf of the New York State Assembly, please accept this small token of appreciation for doing business in the State of New York and keeping us healthy. What you provide is outstanding.”
On behalf of the NYS Assembly, please accept this small token of appreciation for doing business in the state of New York and keeping us healthy…what you provide is outstanding.”
Next, owner Brian Donovan spoke about the company’s recent growth, “We’ve launched a new website this week with a ton of new meals designed for whether you’re trying to put on muscle, watch your sodium if you’re gluten-free, or dairy-free…we have it.”
After the speeches, the assembled group picked up a pair of giant ceremonial scissors, and Mayor Palmieri proclaimed, “Here we grow again!” The ribbon was cut, protein drinks were poured, and the crowd began sampling and shopping.
Kaleigh Fazekas and Susan Stevens, both from Utica, enjoyed the store’s offerings. Fazekas is partial to the smoothies and protein shakes but also likes the “nice environment.” Stevens said she likes the “convenience of being able to just pick up a meal and go.”
Mike Galime, who is running for mayor this fall, has been a supporter since the business opened. He was also in attendance to support
“This is local,” Galime explained. “ It’s availability, it’s variety. I come to the gym here, but whether or not I’m at the gym or just grabbing something for lunch. I know I can get what I need here and support local businesses and jobs. Pushing our small to medium-sized businesses that are locally owned and operated is an important part of supporting our area.”
Assemblywoman Marainne Buttenschon has known Donovan since he opened his first location eight years ago in Rome.
“In all the years I have known him, he has not changed,” she said. “When I think of Balanced Chef, I think of Brian. The food is outstanding because he is in the kitchen, and he understands the importance of providing healthy options to individuals. He had some struggles, but he continues to persevere.”
While the guests mingled and sampled the wide variety of smoothies Balanced Chef offers, Brian was hard at work making more.
“I’m pumped,” he shouted over the whirring blender, “I fully believe in the product I am putting out there, and the only way to go is up!”
The Balanced Chef is located in the Live It Downtown complex (next to the Fitness Mill) on Oriskany Street West in Utica, NY. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 6 am to 7 pm, Friday, 6 am to 5 pm, Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm, and is closed on Sundays. They are online at https://balancedchef.com.
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