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Entrepreneur, 19, opens first cafe in Castle Rock

Entrepreneur, 19, opens first cafe in Castle Rock

BY CASTLE ROCK NEWS-PRESS – He’s 19 years old. He owns his own franchise location — and he’s looking to own more.

Zak Solis of Sedalia has stepped into the food industry by opening a Vitality Bowls franchise location in Castle Rock. In June that was still a dream, but with the financial help of his parents it opened in full swing Nov. 17.

“I was excited,” Zak said.

Vitality Bowls, a superfood café, strives to provide a quick and healthy dining option. The café specializes in making acai bowls, but the menu also offers a coffee bar, smoothies, juices, soups, salads and paninis.

Vitality Bowl’s dishes don’t incorporate ingredient such fillers as ice, frozen yogurt, added sugar or artificial preservatives.

A couple unexpected things happened for Zak’s opening day.

First, his mother Ninfa Cabello said, doors opened two hours ahead of schedule. Starting time was set for 10 a.m., but people were at the door by 8 a.m.

Zak, a calm and go-with-the-flow character, let them in.

Second, Nov. 17 brought Castle Rock’s first snowfall, but luckily it didn’t keep people away. Before 9 a.m. the Solis’ had given out the 50 free bowls they’d reserved for the first customers.

Jeanette Schwecke of Castle Rock and her husband Tim took their four children to Vitality Bowl’s grand opening for lunch. Tim was unexpectedly called away to a meeting, but Jeanette enjoyed the menu’s “nutty bowl” while the children ate paninis.

“It’s really, really good,” Jeanette said. “It has a lot of good flavor.”

The nutty bowl is a blend of acai, almond milk, apple juice, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries and flax seed. It’s topped with granola, almonds, honey and banana slices.

Jeanette’s only complaint was how cold the bowl was, which surprised her, she said. On a wintery day, she thought she might have preferred a soup meal. Still, Jeanette said, she will be back.

“Definitely myself and my husband,” she said.

They might not always bring their children — the acai bowls are pricy for feeding four children, she said. The bowls range from $6 to $13.

“But we get it,” she said. “Those ingredients are all really pricy. High quality.”

Jeanette said she’s also excited for a new smoothie shop in Castle Rock, an option she said the town is lacking.

Zak believes the café fits with what the town’s demographics want — healthy and clean food on the go.

His Vitality Bowl is the second location in the state and the first in Castle Rock. The other location is in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood.

Zak always had his own way of thinking, Cabello said.

He first began cooking for himself at age 9.

“My parents taught me how to cook eggs so I didn’t have to wake them up in the morning,” he joked.

In reality, Zak said, he simply has a passion for food.

By 16, he concocted plans to run a food truck. He spent his free time dreaming up menu ideas and propositioning his parents for the financial help to open one.

“My whole thing was like, ‘Can you finish your homework first?’ ” Cabello said with a laugh.

The food truck didn’t pan out, but in the meantime, Zak cooked in a variety of kitchens.

He started working for McDonald’s at 14, and then graduated to the Bear Dance golf course’s bar and grill.

That led to a pizzeria in Sedalia before he tried his hand at fine dining in a Castle Rock Italian restaurant.

“He just has a passion for it,” Cabello said. “He doesn’t see it as a chore.”

All his work experiences, Zak said, are an effort to reach culinary school and open his own restaurant.

Those dreams are still alive, but before school or his own restaurant, Zak said he wants to gain more work experience in the industry.

He’s appreciative that the franchise owners are flexible with him because of his age. And, he’s looking to expand with the company.

Zak and his father, Sael, have discussed where their next Vitality Bowls location should be.

Right now, Parker and Highlands Ranch are in the running.

He hopes to open one of them in the next year and eventually a third location.

“Everything,” Zak said, “is good right now.”

Vitality Bowls Founder Tara Gilad on Self-Funding Success

Vitality Bowls Founder Tara Gilad on Self-Funding Success

BY BUSINESS ROCKSTARS – Tara Gilad, COO and Co-Founder of Vitality Bowls, sits down with Pat O’Brien to talk about healthy food and having a healthy food business, being an entrepreneur, overcoming the fear, being a pregnant mom starting a business, the franchise system, having hundreds of employees, hiring family not friends, self-funding, and much more. read more

Vitality Bowls adds a superfoods coffee bar

Vitality Bowls adds a superfoods coffee bar

The bar, which is being added to new restaurants where space permits, features classic offerings such as espressos and lattes, but made with organic coffee, as well as organic kombucha on draft and coffees boosted with the nutrient-dense fruits and herbs that are the 28-unit chain’s hallmark. The three most popular dairy alternatives — almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk — are all available, too.

“We took a look around at local coffee places, and everyone’s doing the same thing,” vice president of operations Uriah Blum said.

Among the chain’s new specialty drinks are an açaí latte that combines espresso with açai purée, steamed almond milk and coconut sugar; and a pitaya latte made with espresso, pitaya (also known as dragon fruit), coconut sugar and steamed coconut milk.

The coffee bar serves kombucha and coffee on draft.

Organic coconut sugar is the default sweetener at the coffee bar, vice president of operations Uriah Blum said.

“As always with everything we do, we try to leverage the natural flavors of the ingredients,” he said, adding that coconut sugar does that better than more conventional sweeteners. However, he said Sugar in the Raw and stevia are available upon request due to customer demand.

The coffee bar was tested at the chain’s company-owned store in Walnut Creek, Calif., and has been introduced at new franchised locations in Atlanta; Lubbock, Texas; and Castle Rock, Colo.

The bar also offers organic cold brew coffee in a keg with nitrogen, and Blum said they are currently developing a whole cold coffee menu for next summer, as well as a chia seed protein latte with maca, a medicinal plant from Peru.

Vitality Bowls is headquartered in San Ramon, Calif.

Find out how to get free coffee for a week in metro Atlanta

Find out how to get free coffee for a week in metro Atlanta

BY THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION – Here’s some good news: Today, Vitality Bowls Superfood Cafe, a superfood restaurant, opens its door in the Viewpoint building in Midtown, making it the first location in metro Atlanta. To celebrate, the first 50 people will receive a free açaí-bowl meal; buy-one-get-one 50-percent off food bowls are also available today. Additionally, guests will receive coffee all day now thru Nov. 17—yes, a cup of Joe for seven days.

Vitality Bowls, based in Northern California, specializes in -based superfood restaurant, superfoods and antioxidant-rich menu ingredients. read more