“Our core mission is food safety and food allergies,” says Kim, Vitality Bowls’ franchisee for Marin County, who opened his 600-square-foot shop at 765 East Blithedale Avenue within the Alto Plaza center on Thursday, Aug. 8. He also plans to open shops in Novato and San Rafael.
Vitality Bowls spawned from the extremely personal journey of founders Roy and Tara Gilead who, after discovering their daughter’s severe food allergies – and their fevered quest to find healthy, safe food alternatives for her, decided to create what they were seeking. The San Ramon residents launched their “superfood cafe” that serves acai bowls, smoothies, salads, juices, paninis and more, in 2011. The Marin locations also have organic kombucha and cold brew coffee on-tap.
In 2014, they franchised the business, and its growth has exploded, a rise that has been meteoric to say the least, with more than 135 locations open or in development across the country, including nearly 40 in California.
As Kim tells it, all of Vitality Bowls’ food prep like fruit and vegetable, is done separately, with gloves on, on separate cutting boards, new gloves for each new item, with each fruit and vegetable kept separate from the others. “We do everything we can to minimize any cross contamination,” he says, pointing to the nut station that is completely separate from everything else. “The nut station is code red!”
Kim has had a broad-ranging professional career, but health has largely been at its center. He’s launched a half dozen healthcare ventures over the years, including a cosmetic dermatology practice, startup clinics and a hearing aid business.
“I’ve always just really enjoyed launching businesses from scratch and immersing myself in the details,” he says.
Kim learned about Vitality Bowls’ franchise program through a franchise broker friend, and decided to take the plunge. But he’s done so with vigor, buying a cottage in Mill Valley’s Blithedale Canyon and spending months getting to know the people and places of Marin.
“I really want to be part of this community in a genuine way,” he adds.
The 411: Henry Kim opens the Sausalito-Marin location of Vitality Bowls, a “superfood cafe” that serves acai bowls, smoothies, salads, juices, paninis and more, at 160 Donahue St., located between Target and CVS in the Gateway Shopping Center, on Thursday, Oct. 3. MORE INFO.