Sept. 9 marked the opening week of Berries & Bowls, a fast-paced café with a restaurant vibe that promises customers its fruit bowls, smoothies and juices are the healthiest meal they will eat all day.
Located at 120 Market St., Berries & Bowls is defined by its large windows, orange and purple interior, relaxed atmosphere and ample seats—an important factor for owner and manager Brian Levine that led to the café’s placement in the Kentlands.
“We chose this location versus some of the other sites, we wanted to have seats,” Levine said. “We wanted to have people sit and relax and enjoy and spend time here.”
To encourage customers to stay awhile, Berries & Bowls serves its fruit blended product that has the thick, smooth feel of ice cream in a glass bowl with a metal spoon, rather than with paper and plastic typical of quick-service food items.
“I don’t like serving customers in a restaurant in plastic,” Levine said. “To me that’s a takeout container.”
Following Mod Pizza, Berries & Bowls is the second new restaurant to open recently in Kentlands Market Square and has had little difficulty attracting customers. Its most popular item is the acai bowl, a frozen puree of bananas and acai berries, a nutritious fruit from a Brazilian palm tree.
Acai berries are considered a superfood because they are packed with antioxidants and regarded as superior in nutritional value and health benefits. Acai berries resemble blueberries in appearance but hail from the Amazon rainforest and have a natural, bitter taste. Acai is one of five fruit-blended bases offered, along with pitaya, kale, spirulina (an algae powder known for its bright blue appearance and health benefits) and coconut—the second favorite among customers. There are then 12 combination of fruit toppings to choose from, such as the “Nutty Professor” consisting of granola, banana, strawberries, peanut butter, Nutella, peanuts and almonds.
The acai berry picked up popularity in California in the 2000s and has since captured the nation’s attention. With an increasingly health-conscious society and social media-minded consumers, acai bowl shops and superfood cafes like Berries & Bowls are cropping up all over the country as the food trend continues to expand.
Berries & Bowls has felt the demand.
“I’m going through about five cases of bananas a day. That’s 40-pound boxes, that’s 200 pounds of bananas every single day,” Levine said, who noted customers waited outside for the store to open Friday morning.
The superfood café also prides itself on having no added sugar to its menu items that—along with its “100 percent pure acai” bowls—includes smoothies, chia pudding and vegetable juices.
“It’s all about eating healthy and making good choices,” Levine said.