An injury, a chance meeting and a vision led to the formation of Simply Fresh, located on 125 S. Campo St. in Las Cruces. Now, five years into their partnership, Chris Baca and Mike Gray have developed a strong team of chefs that pride themselves on their mission of making healthy food accessible and delicious.
Mike Gray, co-owner of Simply Fresh, had suffered a pectoral injury while powerlifting. After taking time to heal, he was ready to begin again and get healthy. He found himself in Nutrishop after deciding to get his life together. Gray went in to get protein and pre-workout when he noticed Baca stocking BTC Fitness meals. Baca and his then business partner co-owned BTC Fitness and operated it out the Nutrishop.
“Eating healthy is something I always wanted,” Gray said.
When Baca’s business partner left, Gray and Baca decided to take over the business together and rebrand it as AIM Fit Meals. Baca had prior restaurant experience with his restaurant Don Felix in Mesilla and had a food truck.
Together, Baca and Gray came to an agreement that if Gray could sell 500 meals for one day, Gray could discuss leaving his full-time job. At the time, they were selling 200-300 meals. Gray recalled he went out and sold 700 meals in one day, then put in his two-week notice at his full-time job.
At the start of 2020, AIM Fit Meals locked in their current location on Campo Street. After renovations were complete in April 2020, they were ready to open their doors. However, the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting businesses. Luckily, they were able to secure a temporary license from the health inspector.
An unseen benefit from lockdown was the way AIM Fit Meals were available. Customers were able to order online for curbside pickup and delivery. As retractions slowly lifted, they began allowing their customers to come inside their building and grab a meal to go. All options that are still utilized today. Customers can pre-order meals online Wednesday-Sunday. On Monday, customers can pick up their bag in the store, have their food delivered or pick it up curbside.
“Since people started to become more familiar with health and needing to become healthier because of the pandemic, they started to come in, ask questions and order more food,” Gray said. “There weren’t a lot of healthy options. Gyms were shut down due to the pandemic, people were putting on weight. They did not feel good about themselves. We gave them an out by eating our food.”
From 2019 to when they go their location, Gray said that business tripled for AIM Fit Meals and has continued to grow each year.
Following a rebrand in 2022, Baca and Gray renamed their business Simply Fresh. They noticed with the name change, it made the business friendlier to all types of customer: the gym shark, police officers, the elderly, college students, health care workers and first responders.
“We started out because we wanted to try to create an experience for everybody whenever you first walk in,” Gray said. “I absolutely love hearing transformation stories, like, ‘Hey, I’ve been coming here for two months, and I’ve lost like 15 pounds or whatever. We get that all the time. It’s a big thing to hear.”
On June 8, Simply Fresh entered the 15th Annual Taste of Las Cruces, more than 20 eateries in Las Cruces brought their best dishes to the competition. Simply Fresh took home the title of “Best Taste of Las Cruces.”
They brought four dishes; crepes, powerball protein balls, a buffalo chicken wrap and their Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. It was the enchiladas that won the title for Simply Fresh.
Gray said that the enchiladas are a customer favorite and they hear often that people don’t believe they are healthy. Gray explained the dishes, like all their dishes, are made from starch.
The enchiladas are three low carb tortillas covered in creamy green chile sauce, shredded cheese and shredded chicken. The green chile is flavorful and spicy. Served with fluffy white rice and pinto beans, this meal is very filling.
“For us, to be able to win that competition against unhealthy enchiladas was one of the biggest take-aways for us there. We are super excited about that,” Gray said.
In the future, Simply Fresh hopes it make an impact in the community by expanding its menu into kid’s meals, compete in more competitions, and continue to sponsor local athletes, high schools and more.
Follow Simply Fresh for the latest updates on Facebook and Instagram. For more information, please visit simplyfreshco.com or call 575-500-4331.