Vitality Bowls, the leading superfood cafe brand in the country, was created out of necessity, founders Tara and Roy Gilad like to say. The couple started the brand after finding a dearth of restaurants in the Bay Area that could meet the needs of their daughter’s severe food allergies.
But with a menu based around superfoods like açaí, Vitality Bowls showed immediate potential as a concept that went far beyond a family pet project—the formula of delicious and nutritious food that could meet the dietary needs of any consumer showed massive franchise potential. Vitality Bowls has since grown to over 75 units across 18 states and now has its sights set on 6 percent year-over-year sales growth in 2021.
“We started out 10 years ago before most people knew how to even pronounce ‘açaí,’” says co-founder Tara Gilad. “It was really a journey in educating our customers early on, but we found that once we got guests in the door they fell in love with our product. Five months after we opened our first store, we opened a second one, and we’ve been growing ever since.”
Along with the growth of Vitality Bowls, awareness of açaí has since skyrocketed, with Datassential reporting that menu incidents of açaí bowls has risen 227 percent since 2016. The trend highlights one of the reasons Vitality Bowls has been so successful, as consumers display a desire for healthy, wholesome, and immunity-boosting ingredients that has only grown since the pandemic. The brand also menus an assortment bowls, smoothies, fresh juices, salads, and paninis, all made fresh to order in kitchens free of common food allergens, filling the void for many consumers who previously lacked a place that serves healthy, nutritious superfoods packaged in delicious menu items.
“More and more people are trying to make healthier choices and that’s what Vitality Bowls is all about,” Tara Gilad says. “We believe every community deserves to have a Vitality Bowls so that they have the choice to eat healthy and try all of our amazing superfoods.”
Because it started off as a family-centric concept, perhaps it’s no surprise that the franchisor has such a close relationship with its franchisees. Take Diana Salas, for example, who now owns four thriving Bay Area locations despite having zero restaurant experience prior to partnering with Vitality Bowls. After hearing about the concept from a close friend who was also a franchisee, Salas first fell in love with the concept’s product and mission.
Salas was encouraged to go through the discovery process and see just how much support franchisees get in launching and owning a storefront. She says that her successful ownership of four stores speaks to how well Vitality Bowls prepares its franchisees for restaurant ownership, including a complete training program, as well as nonstop support throughout that includes weekly phone meetings with a district manager that is in charge of no more than 20 units at a time. Most of all, Salas loves the idea that she’s helping consumers get a healthy product they can’t find elsewhere
“Vitality Bowls is always working on new, innovative menu items,” says Diana Salas, franchisee. “It’s really helpful knowing as a franchisee you can rely on them to come up with fresh new ideas that people will love. It means we can focus on running our stores day to day while they are focusing on the future.”
Vitality Bowls has a franchisee fee and liquidity requirements but Gilad says it’s that passion for the brand that her team looks for when going through the discovery process with potential franchisees. They’re worried less about experience than they are about passion and dedication to the brand and its mission.
“You have to have the passion to be an entrepreneur, and you have to really believe in our healthy food,” Gilad says. “At the end of the day, you are the brand ambassador. It’s you who interacts with customers and makes sure they have a good experience. We really believe healthy food is the future, and to go into business with you, we want to make sure you believe that, too.”
For more information on franchising with Vitality Bowls, visit the brand’s website.
By Charlie Pogacar