Not every franchise concept can say it was born o f necessity, but Vitality Bowls is no ordinary brand.
When Tara and Roy Gilad’s daughter developed severe food allergies early in life, the couple noticed a lack of restaurants that could reliably accommodate her needs. They couldn’t accept this as their daughter’s reality, so they set out on a journey.
“It was so hard watching our daughter go through what she went through,” Tara Gilad says. “On top of that, we felt like we could never go out as a family. So we said, ‘You know what? Let’s create an incredible restaurant that our daughter can go to.’”
Since Tara and Roy were self-proclaimed health nuts, they decided to make Vitality Bowls an allergen-sensitive café brand built around superfoods, like açaí.
The first store opened in the Bay Area in 2011, and it took a whole lot of grassroots marketing from the Gilads to spread the word. But once people came through the doors, they fell in love with the food. Menu items included salads, acai bowls, and smoothies, while a recent menu roll out added craveable items like grain bowls, toasts, and wraps.
Once the brand started franchising and expanded into other states, one of the many people who fell in love with the food was Josh Willingham, now a franchisee with three stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Willingham’s stores are just three of the more than 119 units the brand has either currently open or in the site selection or construction phase.
“The first time you try Vitality Bowls, if you’re a health food junkie like me, you can’t believe how good it tastes,” Willingham says. “And then I started digging in and doing the research and found the company was super transparent with its menu and ingredients—everything was real, clean, with no hidden preservatives—and that aligned with my own goals. I wanted to bring that to my community in Frisco to give everybody a chance to eat a little healthier.”
Willingham’s background was in finance, but he’d always dreamed of owning his own business. Vitality Bowls was struck by his passion for the brand, which happened to be exactly what the franchisor is looking for in a franchisee. Vitality Bowls is looking to grow its brand with people who, like Willingham, will take great pride in bringing a healthy, allergen-conscious brand to their own community.
“What I love most about this company is that we get such a diverse group of franchise partners,” says Uriah Blum, the brand’s vice president of development. “We love collaborating with our franchisees and getting their opinions and ideas. A lot of them aren’t restaurant people, but they have that passion and this brand really resonates with them. They’re all in and have the personality to back that up. They are willing to self promote and be social and embed themselves in the community, and we’ve been fortunate to find people capable of doing that.”
For more on franchising with Vitality Bowls, visit vitalitybowls.com.