When Chris Sweeney was driving to work over 50 miles a day in a run-down car, with a negative bank account and a non-working phone, he never imagined that the “simple habit of packing a healthy lunch” would change his life forever.

As a former Division I athlete, Sweeney had honed the discipline of taking care of his body and eating consistently nourishing meals like brown rice, chicken and broccoli while running track and field as a walk-on at Cal State Long Beach.

That high-performance background is now the basis for Sweeney’s meal delivery service RightMealz, which recently opened a dine-in storefront on Fourth Street, but it would take a serendipitous twist of fate and Sweeney’s persistent drive to get him where he is today.

“I keep wanting someone to pinch me,” Sweeney said. “In 2015 I had no idea that the path I was on was going to lead to all this.”

Chris Sweeney, owner of RightMealz, inside his new restaurant in Long Beach Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The seed for his new business came in 2015 as he was struggling to make it as a Realtor. Sweeney’s bank account was withdrawn $56 when a coworker asked him to make a week’s worth of the same healthy meals Sweeney brought to the office. The coworker said he would pay $120 for the service, which Sweeney gladly accepted. He bought, cooked and packaged the meals, and delivered them the next day.

When he got home later that day, Sweeney was shocked when he turned on his computer and was buried in Facebook notifications from people requesting weekly meal plans after they’d seen a picture of what his co-worker had posted online.

After a few weeks of cooking over 50 meals in his home for other customers, Sweeney was able to quit his job, get his car out of the impound and start his company, RightMealz.

Between 2016 and 2019, Sweeney said he “was a one-man-show,” cooking, packaging, and delivering sometimes up to 200 meals a week, all while working as a bartender at Boathouse on the Bay.

Sweeney said that during the 2020 pandemic, when all the restaurants shut down, he experienced a significant surge in people ordering his meal plans.

As word of mouth began to spread about RightMealz, so did his client list, which now includes professional athletes from Olympians to NFL players. In February he opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant on Fourth Street, the former location of Berlin Bistro. RightMealz offers breakfast and lunch menu items based upon the dietary principles of professional athletes.

Chef Victor Barboza holds a turkey chorizo burger at RightMealz restaurant in Long Beach Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

“I look at our bodies as exotic vehicles, per se,” Sweeney said. “They need the proper fuel and nutrition to perform, and you can’t put regular fuel in an exotic car.”

Sweeney hired  Chef Victor Barboza—once a sous-chef at Boathouse on the Bay—to take the lead in creating a gourmet style health-focused menu.

Barboza said he is able to “marry health and taste” in dishes like the grilled veggies and hummus ($14.95), by focusing on enhancing the flavor through the use of natural oils and fresh herbs—all crafted in-house.

Rise & Shine Salad at RightMealz restaurant in Long Beach Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Some of the dishes include a breakfast burger made with a chorizo turkey patty and egg ($19) and a breakfast salad with arugula, quinoa, egg and garbanzo beans ($16); lunch options include grilled chicken lettuce wraps ($15.95) and a kale chop salad ($15). RightMealz also offers a monthly plan ($260) that includes a range of packaged to-go meals.

RightMealz has a coffee, juice and smoothie bar, made fresh to order, ranging from $3 to $11, as well as a wine and beer menu.

“RightMealz changed my life for the better,” Sweeney said. “It brought a new light to my life, essentially saving me, and I can share that with others by just simply offering them a great product that’s healthy and nutritious.”

RightMealz is located at 420 E. Fourth St. For more information, click here