Cape has new healthy food option with Bahia Bowls
Cape Coral has gotten a new acai caf.
That’s pronounced “AH-sigh-EE,” if you’ve never heard of it.
The somewhat new food trend can be intimidating for some, but the staff at Bahia Bowls is here to help.
“We’ll walk you through it,” said Bahia Bowls Cape Coral manager Megan Hodges. “We like to give samples. We like people to know what they’re getting into. We get tons of great feedback on that, especially on our blends.
“Our recipes are done in a way that really balances out the flavors.”
Bahia Bowls opened its second store in Cape Coral on Feb. 1.
“It’s so rare in this area to find something this good for you and good tasting,” Hodges said. “We already have regulars that we see almost every day.”
There are four base bowls: acai, oatmeal, pitaya (also known as dragon fruit) and a green base, which is made from spinach, pineapples, kale and mango.
“Instead of having 16 different bowls, which are just different combinations and plays on ingredients we have, people can customize it and make it any way they want,” said Van Hatziyianis, owner of Bahia Bowls. “We have a very simplistic way of ordering and making the product the way you want.”
The flagship Estero store opened about 2 1/2 years ago.
“This market was really right for opportunity because there really wasn’t much around here in this regard,” Hatziyianis said.
Hodges says Bahia Bowls is unique because it gives the customer more choices.
“We have more options available from sizing all the way up to toppings,” she said. “A lot of other places offer one size bowl and they just pile up the toppings and sometimes you don’t want all of that. If you’re going to eat healthy, sometimes you don’t want to load up on all of these extra calories.”
Bahia Bowls offers small, medium and large sizes. They are 8, 16 and 24 ounces, respectively.
“So you come in and you get exactly what you want,” Hodges said.
They also offer over 20 toppings.
“You can get extra protein, hemp, whey and pea protein,” she said. “You can also come in and get nut butter, almond butter and Nutella. We do have some sweeter options, too.”
Bahia Bowls has gluten-free options. All of the bowls are vegan and the only non-vegan toppings are Nutella and chocolate chips.
“We try to be very aware of allergies,” Hodges said.
It’s also all about the ingredients.
“We’re using the freshest ingredients,” she said. “Organic when we can. We don’t add anything. None of our blends get any extra anything. It’s all natural.
“Our super fruit ingredients (i.e. acai, pitaya, green) in our bowls are organic and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, which you would imagine are things people are seeking as it relates to staying healthy these days,” Hatziyianis said.
Hatziyianis says quality also helps Bahia Bowls stand out.
“Our acai we blend has a different taste than others,” he said. “We get feedback constantly that people feel it’s superior.”
When Hatziyianis was working an event at Florida Gulf Coast University, a few Brazilians from the soccer team made it a point to tell him just how much they liked it.
“They came up to me and said this is the closest thing I’ve had to the product in Brazil where I come from,” he said. “A lot of people have heard of it or maybe their kids know about it, but there’s not a lot of awareness.”
Acai comes from Brazil and it initially became popular in Southern California and Hawaii.
“If you were to go to Southern California, you would see an acai caf on every street corner,” Hatziyianis said.
The concept of acai bowls came to the U.S. about eight years ago. It’s been catching on in Southwest Florida for the past three to four years.
“I would say in the past five years, it’s moved throughout the larger cities in the U.S.,” Hatziyianis said.
His family owned restaurants in New York for 50 years and he worked in the kitchens while he was growing up.
Eventually Hatziyianis got into finance and worked on Wall Street for 27 years for firms like Neiman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2012, he decided he wanted to start some type of quick service restaurant.
“Over the past five years as we were looking for different opportunities, we saw that there as been a major transformation of restaurants, even the larger chains, moving toward healthier options,” Hatziyianis said.
Hodges also has a food service background. For the past 12 years, she’s worked in the hotel and catering industries.
She previously worked at the Westin in Cape Coral for three years.
“I have a food background,” Hodges said. “So, our quality of food is incredibly important to me.”
And it shows. The first bite of one of Bahia Bowls’ acai bowls leaves you wanting more.
This is the type of food your body will thank you for.
Bahia Bowls is at 2522 Santa Barbara Blvd., Unit 302, in the Shops at Midpoint Center, Cape Coral. For additional information, visit www.bahiabowls.com/ or call 239-772-2618.