In a sign of the times, what was once the hole-in-the-wall home of Cho’s Mandarin Dim Sum on California Avenue in Palo Alto will as of Thursday be home to an acai-bowl franchise.
Vitality Bowls, which calls itself a “superfood café,” is opening at 209 California Ave. this Thursday, July 16. Vitality Bowls serves made-to-order acai bowls (a thick smoothie-like blend of the superfruittypically topped with granola, fruit and other healthy ingredients) as well as smoothies, fresh juices, soups, salads and paninis. (It probably couldn’t get any further from Cho’s famous potstickers and pork buns, served paper plates at incredibly low prices.)
The classic “Vitality Bowl” has a base of blended acai, strawberries, banana and flax seed, topped with granola, banans, strawberries, goji berries and honey. Other bases include ingredients like mango, pineapple, kale, spinach, coconut milk, guarana ? and even broccoli. You can also create your own bowl or add/substitute ingredients from any pre-set bowl.
There are 10 smoothies with similar ingredients, plus raw juices with fruit and vegetables. Paninis are pretty typical ? turkey or ham with provolone, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Dijon and pesto; plus a veggie version and “The Olympian” (peanut butter on whole wheat bread with granola, bananas and honey).
Check out the full menu here.
Founder Tara Gilad opened the first Vitality Bowls four years ago in San Ramon after coping with the challenges presented by her young daughter’s severe food allergies.
“She was so limited in what she could eat; I wanted to get her those berries every day,” Gilad said in an interview earlier this year, declaring, “açaí is the healthiest food on this planet.”
All Vitality Bowl outlets have non-cross-contamination kitchens, meaning “people with nut allergies, berry allergies, dairy allergies, on a paleo diet, on a vegan diet, flax allergy ? you name it” can eat there without any concern of getting ill, which happened to Gilad’s daughter frequently when they ate out.
Vitality’s bowls and smoothies have no ice, added sugar, yogurt or artificial preservatives. Most of the ingredients are organic, depending on the season and availability.
Vitality Bowls is now a franchised chain with locations throughout the Bay Area. Three graduates of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, own the new Palo Alto franchise. Another Vitality Bowls also recently opened in downtown Redwood City.
Vitality Bowls Palo Alto will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The shop will open at 9 a.m. for opening day, however.
Grand opening specials running from Thursday, July 16, through Wednesday, July 22, will include: buy one acai bowl, get one 50 percent off; $2 for any bowl $9.99 or more; free toppings/additions for any one bowl; and $3 off your order with a Facebook like.
The new acai-bowl shop is Palo Alto’s second, following Bare Bowls, which opened downtown in November. Bare Bowls also announced on social media this week that they’ll be opening a second location in Burlingame.
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The açai craze just got bigger.
Reader Pick: AÇai Bowl, New Smoothie Place, Vegetarian Destination
The açai trend is sweeping the East Bay in the form of Vitality Bowls. Even those skeptical of fads will be hooked after trying one of these refreshing concoctions. Start with the classic Vitality Bowl, filled with açai blended with soy milk, apple juice, bananas, strawberries, and flax seed, and topped with fruit, granola, and honey. Tip: Place your order online, so you don’t have to wait. 2473 Stoneridge Mall Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 463-2224; 211 Market Pl., San Ramon, (925) 804-6012; 1528 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 464-7607, vitalitybowls.com.