Published August 17, 2004
Volume 12, Number 8

Dream Dinners Helps Busy People Create Home-Cooked Meals
Hacienda Business Lets Participants Cook Onsite, Then Take Home Meals For Later

Dream Dinners
Jennifer Costa, owner of Dream Dinners, believes that her store will be a
boon to the busy families of today.

By George Walsh
Special to NETWORK

Most people would agree that the family dinner hour of yore is sometimes a rarity in the present. Between working and raising a family, it’s hard to prepare a home-cooked meal and experience the pleasure of dinner table conversation with their families. Even those without families often find it difficult to find or justify the time to prepare home-cooked meals. Jennifer Costa seeks to change that situation in Pleasanton with the opening of her new Dream Dinners franchise at 5676 Stoneridge Drive in Hacienda.

The concept behind Dream Dinners is that customers preview a monthly menu online at dreamdinners.com and select 12 of the 14 entrees that are featured each month. They then visit a Dream Dinners retail store, where they travel from station to station, scooping pre-cut raw ingredients into baking pans or gallon-sized zip-top bags. They take the uncooked meals home and place them in the freezer. The whole process takes about two hours. The result is 12 homemade meals that people can pull out of the freezer and put into the oven as needed.

Dream Dinners’ owner, Jennifer Costa, spent the last ten years in the wireless telecom industry, but when she heard about Dream Dinners, she heeded a different calling. “I read about Dream Dinners about a year and a half ago and thought the concept was great,” Costa says. “I loved the idea of what they were bringing to the community. The way they do franchising is also very unique. You don’t just ask to open up the store and get approval, there’s a whole process where you fill out a questionnaire, where they want to find out about you and your thoughts behind the concept. After submitting the application, I got a call back and got invited up to their headquarters in Seattle to meet the owners. We had a great meeting and they offered me a business opportunity.”

The Dream Dinners franchise was initially started by Stephanie Allen, a former caterer from the Seattle area who had been preparing freezer meals for her family for years. In March, 2002, Allen agreed to teach her friends how to assemble freezer dinners. That initial group grew to the point where Allen was teaching 44 people her techniques and the idea for Dream Dinners was born. Allen and her business partner, Tina Kuna, opened two Seattle-area stores that now draw nearly 1,000 customers per month. Dream Dinners currently has 30 locations and is growing quickly with locations across the U.S.

Everything you need to prepare meals is onsite at Dream Dinners—including ingredients, utensils, a full kitchen, and cooking advice. However, one of the other things that Costa feels is really special about Dream Dinners is a sense of family and community. “It’s not about just coming in to just check something off of your list. It’s very social. Husbands and wives come in. We welcome people to bring a bottle of wine. We’ve got music on, we’ve got appetizers out. It’s a good time.”


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