Food and Drink

Late night hunger inspired these healthy vending machines

Smart fridges are popping up around Kelowna

When Katie Murray would finish her radio show late at night, she often wouldn’t get home until 1 a.m.

For such a late dinnertime, there were few options to satisfy her hunger.

“The only things that are open at that time for food are the fast-food joints, pizza shops,” Murray told Kelowna10.

“Which at that point in my life that was just going to tire me down. I would rather eat nothing or just have an apple for dinner than eat something that’s going to not make me feel good.”

From that experience, she and boyfriend Brady Kosior wanted to come up with a fresh food option, available 24 hours a day, which didn’t need attending staff.

More than three years later they are now the founders of Cruze co. and recently set up one of their smart fridges at YLW.

The airport was one of their main goals. They are also in Orchard Park Shopping Centre and hope to establish one at the hospital.

“We found a gap in the market researching these kinds of facilities and we realized they’re open 24 hours, and they don’t really have many options for food at all,” Kosior said.

The airport fridge has sandwiches, fruit bowls, salads, cheesecake cups, and protein doughnuts.

Interested customers waiting for their flight can scan their payment method, be it credit card or smart device at the reader, and it unlocks the fridge.

Every shelf inside uses weighted plate technology to keep track of how much inventory is inside.

“You can examine the products, you can put the products back on the shelf if you want,” Kosior explained. “But as soon as you take the product and close the door, it charges your card.”

The fridge knows which items are removed so the customer is charged for however many items they take.

The pair’s goal is to make sure the food they’re selling is as fresh as possible, so they replace anything older than two days. It is still edible, so anything beyond that timeframe is donated to local food banks.

The packaging may appear to be regular plastic but Kosior said it's all bio-degradable material.

The machines provide data, telling them which of their 150 recipes are popular per location. This helps Cruze co. minimize food waste.

It suggested people want quick convenient food at the airport like sandwiches.

So far, the new start-up just employs the two founders. They ‘wear many hats,’ from cooking the food at their kitchen in Rutland, to delivering, to marketing, etc.

As they expand one machine at a time, Murray said they will start to hire kitchen staff and look for chef collaborations.

The young couple admitted seeing their machine at YLW after years of work is a dream come true.

“It was just an idea in our head and now there are fridges sitting out there in public and people eating the food,” Murray said.

“It’s beautiful that we’re standing here, and we get to say that we have a fridge at the airport and that we get to feed the people of Kelowna.”

Published 2022-05-09 by David Hanson

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