Ohana Food Co: The Inspiration and Story Behind the Brand

DSC 0002 2 scaled

This morning I had the chance to sit down with Jimmy and Jennifer Blumenfeld who, together, own Ohana Food Co. They have been running Ohana since 2020, but their story starts long before the restaurant was born. It was truly a pleasure to learn their story, hear their journey as a couple, family and a restaurant. It was so great to hear the story and the reason for their lifestyle change and what inspired them to open Ohana Food Co.

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

What inspired you to make the lifestyle change? To switch from the traditional American diet to a lifestyle of whole foods?

Jennifer: “I worked for Kraft Foods for 20 years, which is not healthy food. Towards the end of that time, when I worked there, our son was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, a thyroid disease and we were going to different doctors and they kept saying food didn’t matter. So I left Kraft Foods, and I took a nutrition class, for about a year, and I learned so much about food, and how you can use food as medicine. So we actually started eating differently, more healthy, changed the way we ate, and we applied it with our son. We were able to get his number back to normal, we took him off the medication, and we got his numbers back to normal with food. So that is what started it. Using food as medicine. And my husband wanted to and was interesting in doing a restaurant for a long time. Since we started eating really healthy with our son, he kept begging me to start a restaurant and I kept saying no.”

Jimmy: ” Once we learned more about food, and we became a project of what we were believing, started eating clean like that and there was conversation everyday in the gym. So this was Peak Performance for four years, it was a fitness studio, it was my practice. And I did sports massage and small group fitness and the conversation in here, it was like, ‘this is what I am doing’, and I even considered taking some nutritional classes and education and certifications, and they were just still stuck on the American diet guidelines, the same ones that a doctor would say, ‘as long as you’re doing this, ya know, eat  lots of protein, eat lots of meat’.”

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

Jennifer: If you become a dietician they go by, they learn the standard American diet, that’s what they follow.” Jimmy said, “if it’s approved by the FDA it’s ok”, to which Jennifer agreed. Jimmy went on to say: ” Then you do your own research, that it’s like why did the FDA approve it here, and they haven’t approved it in Europe won’t even let that food there, and you question everything. So the conversation of food in here really kind of struck a chord, on this is an easy way to eat it, like our lunch bowls we do, designing those, and then I started to find out there were other restaurants out there that did similar setups, but not here, and I really started to dream it up. We could help more people through food than we could through fitness. For one, it’s on a much larger  scale if it’s food, 80% of your health is what you eat, if not 100% honestly. Cause you can walk and get mild exercise, but with being on that end of the spectrum we can help a lot more people, we can do a lot more than with the gym. The journey into food started with their son. We probably thought we ate well, but we had no idea at the time, how much stuff that we were eating was bad, or the water we were bathing in, we started questioning everything. But yeah, that is where it all started.”

What was the deciding factor for you, Jennifer, that changed your initial response of no, no, no on the restaurant, to let’s do it?

Jennifer said, ” I don’t know..” to which Jimmy replied that he knew exactly what the deciding factor was for her. Jennifer used to work at Snack Jack. He said he would bring up the restaurant idea, and they would go back and forth over it. Jennifer said her biggest worry was that they had just started getting some money put away after they had put everything into opening up the studio, and Jennifer knew that starting a restaurant was a huge investment. Jennifer said she didn’t want to work 12 hours a day every day. They both stated that Jennifer would vent to her co-workers at Snack Jacks, and they all said that she should do it. They essentially convinced her that it was a good idea. Jimmy recalled that her co-workers and friends influenced her and helped her realize that this was a good idea, and it got the conversation between Jimmy and Jennifer started.  Jennifer recalled that once she told him yes, Jimmy announced that March 1st 2020, was going to be the last day for the fitness studio. When Jennifer gave the green light, they were actually in Ohana, and that was their first time being there in Hawaii. So the inspiration for the name came from that trip, they just didn’t know it at the time. Once the studio was closed, the equipment was emptied out practically the same day. Jennifer may have given the green light but she was adamant that she would not be working at Ohana, but would stay at Snack Jacks.  Then the lockdowns hit. During the lockdown, was when Jennifer realized that while she loved and would miss Snack Jacks, she realized it made more sense to work at their own restaurant.

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

What is your current goal with Ohana Food Co.?

When asked this question, Jennifer’s answer was, “to simply it.”  Jimmy elborated, “We want to serve the community healthy food in a fast fashion. the whole point of Ohana’s to provide truly healthy food fast while your out there grinding. But to pull this off it is way tougher than we thought. We are working on something now, we are gonna revamp in September, and we’re gonna have a new menu, but there will be some wow factor in other areas. That way we can continue to serve the community healthy food. We have become a community staple, and people keep coming back. It’s nothing against anyone’s food, but things like gluten free, dairy free, are common sensitivities. ”

How do you hope to inspire your customers?

Jimmy replied. “Our customers inspire us, it’s like this cycle. They come in with this energy, they want to be the best version of themselves, and we have to match that energy, it’s easy to match that energy. I am a customer when I go home, I take a lunch bowl home everyday and I chow down. We want to continue with everything we are learning, like cancer based testimonies through food, and so that is probably my main way I want to inspire customers. That if you are eating to beat preventive illness, and let’s say cancer is at the top of the list and arthritis is the bottom of the list. I want to inspire to eat so healthy so their body can fight off and they can be confident to fight off their illnesses. ”

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

What would you say to people who say they want to eat cleaner and better but don’t know where to start or how to get started?

Jimmy said, “Asking is the first step. Avoid all processed food, you are treating illness, and you want to be aggressive with building your immune system, so you want to avoid all animal by product. our meat is not healthy these days, and it makes up most of a persons diet, like egg meat and cheese. Eat whole foods, fruits and grains, nuts and seeds, if you do that, seriously you will turn into the healthiest version of yourselves. There are ways to make this exciting and we have figured this out. You can’t eat too much of that stuff, and you can’t get fat from eating too much of that stuff.”

What are some of your long term goals for Ohana for the next 5 – 10 years?

“If we can figure out how to simply it and still offer good lunches fast, along with all the raw juices and smoothie bowls then we would like to have one in all the surrounding counties and beach towns. Because when we get people from surrounding counties in they always ask when are you going to open one up in our town? Anywhere there is like minded people, we would like to have an Ohana. Like a franchise, but we will start off with just a sister one.  We are three years in, and we still haven’t figured out how to not be here when we aren’t open, so we aren’t there yet but we are very optimistic,”  said Jimmy.

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

Are there any other aspects you would like to see be built into the business and brand that is Ohana?

“Yes there is one thing we are going to be doing soon, we are a surfing family, all the boards are from our garage. Surfing, surf lessons, we were the first surf camp in Flagler Beach. We want to offer surf lessons and surf board rentals. Surf lessons would be done by local surfers,” replied Jimmy.

When asked if he had anything else to add about Ohana, Jimmy replied, “Our customers truly make Ohana so special for us. that they all come in so positive. We get the best customers in here. We hope to just keep making the food better, and improve and continue to be the best we can.”

Copyright Flagler County Buzz
By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *