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BY BUSINESS DEN – A California restaurant chain with a menu that features exotic fruits will open its first Colorado location in December, and it has two more locations planned through 2017.

Fast-casual concept Vitality Bowls’ first Colorado franchise will open in December at 2702 E. Third Ave. in Cherry Creek. read more

“Colorado’s a lot like California where people are active and eat well,” Vitality Bowls founder Tara Gilad said. “We looked all over the metro area and decided we wanted to open somewhere near the core of the city where people are into healthy food. So we decided to go to Cherry Creek.”

The chain specializes in yogurt-like berry bowls, using ingredients like acai berries, dragon fruit and flax seed. The menu also features paninis, soups, salads and smoothies for the less adventurous eater.

Franchisee Venkat Duvvuri will open the 1,400-square-foot Cherry Creek store. Duvvuri signed a 36-month lease at $40 per square foot per year, he said. The restaurant is his first crack at running a Vitality Bowls franchise.

“We were looking for a business opportunity and we wanted to introduce this,” Duvvuri said. “Our goal is to open up three locations in Colorado, one in Boulder next year and then another the year after that.”

Duvvuri said he’ll hire between 20 and 25 employees to staff the restaurant.

Vitality Bowls uses in-house architects to draw up plans for all of its locations. The company is getting construction bids on the project. Michael P. Griffin of ERA Herman Group Real Estate brokered the deal.

Vitality Bowls will move into a space on Third Avenue. Photo by George Demopoulos. Gilad said that startup costs for a franchisee average around $200,000, including franchising fees and inventory.

“Younger generations are much more educated and interested in what they put into their bodies, so we’re very popular with them – kids, junior high students and young adults,” she said.

About 50 percent of diners eat in-house, with the rest taking their food to-go, Gilad said. The company also caters and will run catering out of its Denver location.

Gilad founded the company with her husband in California in 2011. The couple opened their second location five months later and a third a year after that. In 2013, the company began selling franchises.

The chain currently has 15 locations.