Even as an eight-year-old kid, Gia Dileo was an entrepreneur. She remembers getting a $50 bill for a birthday gift, and wanting to spend every penny of it at the Hello Kitty store. Her parents protested the idea, but finally gave in, and when little Gia went to them the next day, crying because she had spent all her money, they basically reminded her, “We told you so.”
“Furious,” Dileo recalls, “I returned to my bedroom and hatched a plan. I took inventory of all the items I bought and included a price list. The next day I went to school and circulated my inventory sheet. I was able to sell everything and make a profit.”
Born and raised in Orange County, California, Dileo stayed in the Golden State until she graduated law school. She practiced law in Chicago for a few years while her husband finished out his fellowship. “We left Chicago the day my husband finished his fellowship,” Dileo said. They both felt New Orleans calling them home.
Green to Go, it turns out, was the result of Dileo’s unfulfilled cravings. “Shortly after our second child was born,” she explained, “I was craving a great salad but was disheartened that my only options in New Orleans were to go to a sit down restaurant or to the grocery story and make a salad myself. And just like that (finger snap) the idea was born—to create a salad business focused on high quality, organic and locally sourced ingredients that could be delivered to customers via GREEN energy.”
Dileo and her employees deliver salads by peddling around the city on oversized bicycles bearing the Green to Go logo. She credits the bicycle idea to the Crescent City, itself. “New Orleans is such a unique city; open to anything, willing to try new things and totally accessible via bicycle!” Instead of opening a traditional brick and mortar restaurant or the popular food truck, Dileo figured she could double the “green” effect of her business with man-powered delivery.
During the planning phase of Green to Go, Dileo was nervous about releasing such a healthy concept to New Orleanians. “I had no idea how the city was going to react to my concept,” she admitted, “As you know, healthy food can be met with disdain while gluttony and debauchery is revered.”
Green to Go started out as just greens—salads—but they’ve quickly entered into other territory, as well. Now, Dileo is whipping up breakfast bars, soups, and other delicious and healthy items for her customers to enjoy.
Green to Go is physically located at the Uptown Jewish Community Center Monday through Friday from 7am to 2:30pm, where they serve both breakfast and lunch. The bike currently delivers lunch on a designated route uptown three days a week, and Dileo plans to launch a second bike route soon that will deliver to the CBD, Warehouse District, and French Quarter.
“My husband and two sons are my taste testers and most honest customers,” said Dileo, who is proud that she brings her work home, making sure to keep her family informed on the perks of leading healthy lifestyles, especially in a city so prone to bad eating.
“One of the most gratifying experiences for me has been watching some of our customers lifestyles truly be changed as they learn that eating healthy can still be delicious,” said Dileo.
“Even when I get discouraged,” she joked, “it is the customers that keep me going.”