EDO Kitchen

Healthy Choices Create a Pathway for a Thriving Business

as featured in United Bank's 2024 issue of OUR STORY

 
Elizabeth Doss Orr, Owner of EDO Kitchen is carrying on a family tradition with a new twist. Born and raised in Griffin, Ga., she is a third-generation chef following in the footsteps of her grandfather and mother, both talented bakers. After culinary school, she returned to her hometown to begin her own career as a pastry chef. While her business was successful, her mindset began to shift when a family member was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. She wanted to make nutritious meals that would be more nourishing for the body. She looked closely at the benefits of real whole foods and decided it was time to make some healthier choices. 

“There were several major driving forces in my life that lead me to a healthier approach to food,” said Elizabeth. “My grandparents’ diagnosis made an impression on me, and I was also involved in a car accident which resulted in arthritis. I started reading more about removing gluten from my diet to help control the arthritis and realized quickly that one simple change can make a huge difference in the way I feel.”

Elizabeth started rethinking some legendary family recipes and substituting ingredients that help reduce inflammation without sacrificing taste. She also gained inspiration from Gayla Grubbs, the owner of Milltowne Gourmet in Griffin.

“I was fortunate to work at Milltowne for several years,” she said. “It was there I learned to use simple, good quality ingredients with herbs in the forefront so that the taste remains wonderful without inflammation-inducing additives like gluten. This is a practice I carry into my cooking today.”

The EDO approach is “healthy doesn’t have to be boring.” Some of Elizabeth’s favorite family recipe re-creations include her Papa’s beef vegetable soup (which substitutes raw honey for sugar and gluten), her mom’s famous Italian fare (which uses zucchini noodles instead of pasta noodles) and her grandmother’s pumpkin bread (which replaces vegetable oil with avocado oil).

After doing some meal prep and several events around town that involved tastings, Elizabeth finally decided to take a leap and start her new venture, EDO Kitchen.
 
“I connected with Franklin and Rosemary boutique owner Ashley Upson, who asked me to prepare some food for tasting during an event at her store,” Elizabeth continued. “We gave out samples and learned quickly that there was a large group of ladies who were passionate about great food with better nutrition and less sugar. That night, I took 18 orders for prepared meals during the event. I went home, formed an LLC, and my husband created a website for me.”

For the first four months, Elizabeth established a pickup point for cold food orders at her best friend’s yoga studio in downtown Griffin. But her business grew so quickly that she couldn’t load and lift the coolers necessary to transport the food to the studio (she was also expecting her daughter Nellie!). She turned to Eagle’s Way Church in 2017 for kitchen space where she is currently licensed to prepare meals for weekly pick up. 

 
With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, her business tripled. 
“During COVID, so many people were looking for healthy takeout alternatives, and it was really the perfect time for a drive thru service,” she said. “We went from serving 75 to 240 customers every week.”

Today, she continues to work out of the Eagle’s Way kitchen where she prepares 600-800 meals a week.  Elizabeth creates and shares a new menu every Thursday. Customers order online and then pick up their healthy prepared meals on Tuesday afternoons. Due to lack of space, the EDO team must cap weekly orders and often sell out of customer favorites. November 2024 will mark her seventh year in business. She also caters and enjoys teaching cooking classes in her spare time.


 
 
 
 
 
 
According to Elizabeth, her relationship with United Bank reinforces the sense of community she creates through her weekly meals.

“When I visit the Bank or the ITM, I often have people ask me if I am the owner of EDO because they have tasted my food or have had friends recommend it to them.  It’s nice to have that connectivity with my bank.”

What’s next for EDO Kitchen? Elizabeth is actively working with the United Bank team in Griffin to find a new place to accommodate growth and maybe even add new services.

“I want to keep the meal prep side of the business going strong, but I would really also love to add a small restaurant or café to our offerings,” she explained. As an accomplished artist, Elizabeth has very specific ideas about what an EDO-style restaurant should be.

“I was very close to going to art school and I love spending time at a table in a well-designed space that creates a peaceful atmosphere,” she said. “I envision my restaurant as a beautiful place that serves healthy food, rather than just having a health food store vibe.

“I crave that community, that interaction that goes hand-in-hand with a café or restaurant where people can sit down and enjoy our food. I want to talk with them about the ingredients and where my inspiration comes from in my preparation. For me, it’s almost like a way to share my art. There’s nothing more sacred than breaking bread with a small group of people and gaining fulfillment through the conversations had over a meal. I am so excited to build that part of EDO.”

United Bank is proud to walk alongside Elizabeth as she pursues her dreams to grow EDO Kitchen, a business that is already beloved by so many in the Griffin community.
 
Are you interested in learning more about small business loans from United Bank?  Our lenders are specially equipped to find the best product for your borrowing circumstances.