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Vitality Bowls opens in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Jul 15, 2015
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 superfruit typically 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.

Above: The "detox" bowl with a base-blend of acai, almond milk, flax seeds, kale, spirulina, bananas and strawberries; topped with banana, blueberry, almonds, goji berries and honey.

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.

Others riding the superfruit wave nearby include also Bowl of Heaven and Nekter Juice Bar in Mountain View and even Voyageur du Temps in Los Altos.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by good addition, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jul 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I'm happy to hear that there will be a place that makes healthy, fresh juices on Cal Ave. We could use such a spot.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 15, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Ooops, read this thinking it was the Palo Alto Bowl reopening. My family misses that bowling alley. sigh.

Posted by Pat, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

After July 22nd, what is the cost for a medium/large bowl without any extra toppings? I looked at the menu and can't find what an item costs. I see that a panini costs $3.99 and extra toppings cost .75 cents and that's it.

Price menu would be appreciated.

Posted by Ben Oliver, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Jul 15, 2015 at 9:32 pm

I've been eating Paleo diet recently - so I'm glad it's on here. It's still fairly unknown about from what I've seen. I'd recommend anyone to check out the article on the Paleo program I'm currently using here

Posted by Jeff Rensch, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

This is exciting news -- the street is really picking up.

By the way, thanks Elena for your excellent blog. The only part of the Weekly I read.

Posted by Agenda, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jul 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

But this is exactly the kind of store that people do not want on California avenue-- it is a chain store. Chain stores are evil-- haven't you read the newspapers or listened to the comments of the long time shoe store owner on California avenue? Isn't that why the council is working on an ordinance to prevent this kind of abomination on California avenue? We should all boycott this place until a mom and pop run opens.
What we need is mom and pop run video stores or dry cleaners or restaurants on California avenue

Posted by Bowling, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jul 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Ok,I'll give it a try but I can't say the words "acai" and "bowl" wet my appetite much. Eating bowls of berries and kale sounds more of a chore than a pleasure. Got to roll with the times, I guess.

Love the comment above about the Palo Alto Bowl. I miss that place too.

Posted by MV Resident, a resident of another community,
on Jul 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm


No one is forcing you to patronize this business. If you don't like what they offer, DON'T SPEND ANY MONEY THERE. It's a pretty basic concept for a free market economy.

You can buy the same ingredients and make the dishes at your home if you really want. No one is ever forced to dine out. You can live your entire life without restaurant food if you want so stop complaining about their bill of fare. You have plenty of other choices, whether it be on that same street or elsewhere (including your own kitchen).

Moreover, this restaurant offers other menu items (like panini mentioned in the article) that aren't acai bowls. The restaurateur has thoughtfully created a menu that offers a selection of choices that will hopefully appeal to a wider audience than just acai bowl enthusiasts.

Anyhow, feel free to continue whining.

Best of luck to this new business owner. He/she will need it with all the curmudgeonly Embarcadero Media commenters like some of the people above.

Posted by Alice, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jul 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm

I also got excited at the headline -- we're getting our bowling alley back! Grrr. It's just more food. Oh well.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jul 18, 2015 at 10:32 am

On the other hand, it would be pretty amusing to see someone try and put a bowling alley into that tiny space...
On a different note, aasn't Cho's driven out because the owner was planning on gutting the building? Did that happen?

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

No, according to this previous Embarcadero Media post, the property manager intended on upgrading, not gutting the building: Web Link

Of course, there was no gutting of the building.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jul 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I hate to admit it, but I loved the Warrior Bowl..

Posted by No prices, a resident of Midtown,
on Jul 18, 2015 at 10:58 pm

A Panini is only 3.99 when it is ordered *in addition* to a regular menu item.
The menu has no prices.
So it is safe to assume the bowls, etc. are very expensive. A menu with no prices, that's a new one on me.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jul 19, 2015 at 11:28 am

The lack of pricing on the menu is likely because this particular chain's franchisees are allowed to set their own pricing for individual bowls, but are contractually obligated to offer things like the panini as a $3.99 add-on.

Note that there is no pricing on McDonald's site either. Again, franchisees are allowed to set their own pricing. Special advertised offers are always quoted as being "available at participating restaurants" although it is likely that most franchisees would rather participate instead of disappointing customers who expect the special offers and don't find them available.

My guess is that the prices vary anywhere from $7-$14 depending on the bowl size (S, M or L) and ingredients.

Posted by Elena Kadvany, education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly,
on Jul 20, 2015 at 10:53 am

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

To all wondering about the pricing: Vitality Bowls offers two sizes, medium (20 ounce) and large (32 ounce). Most medium bowls are either $10.49 or $11.49 (except for the most basic bowl, the standard "Vitality Bowl," which has less ingredients and is $8.99). Most large bowls at $11.99 or $12.99. Add-ins are 75 cents.

Smoothies come in one size and range from $5.49 to $6.49. Add-ins are also 75 cents.

Posted by avoid kale, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Apparently kale is known for concentrating heavy metals such as thallium and should not be consumed in large quantities:
Web Link

Posted by really?, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jul 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm

really? is a registered user.

After all this healthy food, will Elena do the taste and review of Dunkin Donuts when it invades soon?

I think this Acai craze give everyone pause for thought when your wife says, 'I'm going down to Cal Ave. to get a Brazilian?...'

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