There is a new healthy food option in Alpine with the recent opening of Mel’s Naturals at the Alpine Creek Shopping Center.
Owner Melanie “Mel” Mediate said she planned her opening for Nov. 5, but is still waiting for a refrigerator. She opened on Tuesday, so she has been doing small table testing in front of her storefront.
Next door to Baron’s Market, a healthy grocery store, Mediate said her hope is that when people are done shopping, they will stop in and get quality healthy food and snacks to meet their needs. There is also casual sitting if they want to grab a bite while they are there. As far as the menu, it rotates every week.
“I am always changing it up with seasonality foods,” she said. “Like this week we did a light turkey dinner with acorn squash, cranberry sauce, gravy, turkey, Brussel sprouts. Then we do stuffed-peppers, mac and cheese with brie and broccoli. They are all tasty items.”
Mediate said her goal is to make healthy living easier for people by creating healthy accessible premade foods to go. She said that healthy food is not readily accessible and believes that is part of the reason people struggle to eat healthy.
“My goal is to make it a lifestyle for people,” she said. “That is why I created Mel’s Naturals. You can go in and check our merchandising refrigerators and stock up on a few entrees, salad dressings, juices and snacks that you can stock your fridge with premade foods. Or you can join our full program and get a transformation where you receive your entire week’s supply of food every week, then go through our workout program online.”
Mediate said with the full program, there is a weekly weigh-in when you pick up food.
“It is a nice way to stay accountable for people who need that and are looking to be healthy,” she said. “So, we take them through that transformation.”
Mediate said she is looking at offering family sized portions in the future, but now all entrees come in individual 16-oz microwave containers. A variety of juices and shakes are bottled and sealed.
“People can sit down and enjoy, but it is more like a grab and go so people can get things and take them to work or home,” she said. “We also do home deliveries. People can also order online.”
Mediate lives in Rancho San Diego but has been going to Alpine since she was a child. Her grandfather would take her there to go to the Bread Basket. She said she chose Alpine for her first location because she loves the town.
“There is really a need for this up there because there is nothing up there that is healthy,” she said. “Alpine is such a nice community. You feel like you are in a different state when you are there. The people are all about supporting small business and I think it is a perfect place to start my first location.”
Mediate said she is doing all of the cooking production at a leased kitchen in downtown El Cajon as the location does not have a permitted kitchen for hot foods, and this also fits her future plans in opening more storefronts in the county.
“Over the next few years, I want to open a few smaller locations like this for retail, and for the food we will continue to cook it off site,” she said. “It saves money that way instead of renting a spot with a large kitchen. There are a lot of things popping up right now because so many people are pulling out of their spaces. We are looking in La Mesa and Encinitas right now.”
Mediate is a personal chef and received her certifications as a personal trainer and nutritionist. She said she had difficulty naming the business at first, but then the obvious hit her.
“Everybody has called me Mel my whole life,” she said. “I’ve always done catering and worked my own business so when I started Mel’s, I did not know what to call it. I was looking at healthy names, something trendy, but ended up just calling it Mel’s.”