Where Community and Good Food Are a Recipe for Success
Kylee Brinkman, her son Bodie and husband Mike
In 2015, after moving back to Naples from California, Kylee Brinkman, owner of The Bowl, discovered that she and her husband Mike missed the clean, healthy eating options that were readily available on the majority of the golden state’s juice bar and deli menus.
Brinkman’s strong entrepreneurial spirit provided the motivation for rising to the challenge of filling the Naples gap. A trained Bikram yoga teacher who lives a healthy lifestyle, she was already familiar with how to experiment with different antioxidantrich fruit blends to create her signature fruit bowls with acai berry based recipes.
“Food & Thought, the best place to find fresh, locally grown organic produce, was a car ride away from my house. I was accustomed to riding a bike to multiple delis and juice bars within a short radius of my Newport Beach, California, neighborhood. I was also aware of the robust, healthy minded community in Naples, and I knew they would be interested in my bowls,” says Brinkman.
Brinkman’s intuitive business sense has been proved right. The Bowl, not only a gathering place for the Naples healthy minded community, has been a blessing for local high school students looking for their first job. “It was part of my business plan to provide a positive workspace for young people to experience their first job. It’s not your typical punch-in and punch-out workplace, but rather the kind of atmosphere where they can have fun working together as a team and get the respect they deserve for working hard and providing great customer service,” explains Brinkman.
Brinkman’s life has been hectic since she opened The Bowl in February 2016. Three days after getting the keys to her Pine Ridge location, she gave birth to her son, Bodie. Presently, while planning for the opening of her second Naples location at 1200 Central Avenue in early October, she is eight months pregnant with her second child, a daughter, that will make her entrance into the world around the end of October. “In memory of my son’s arrival, I named the Barefoot Bodie after him,” quips Brinkman.
“I feel like there is a community forming around the store. Customers gather and socialize here. Every day, it’s fun to watch someone in line turn around and see someone they know coming through the door. It feels good to hear them say, ‘Hey want to sit down together?’ It’s also great to see the news of our nutritious food spreading to a younger crowd of middle and high school students. They come in with each other, discover how delicious the bowls are and then tell their parents about us. They come in informing us that their kids sent them. I think it’s great to see young people eating healthy as early as possible, which is why I so appreciate that we’ve been asked to deliver twice a week to the Community School of Naples student café and to Seacrest Country Day School café,” remarks Brinkman.
Passionate and excited to see the evidence of news about The Bowl spreading around town, Brinkman says, “It’s heartwarming to see demographics from kids to 90-year-olds. My heart smiles every time I hear a child ask their parent if what they are eating is ice cream.”
Brinkman’s bowls aren’t an overnight success story. She got her start selling them at four different local farmers’ markets and continues to sell them at the Third Street Farmers’ Market throughout the year. “I do it because I live locally and own a local business. It’s a fun thing to do because the market draws such a great group of people. Many are Saturday morning regulars that I sometimes see during the week at the store,” she notes.
Food costs for Brinkman’s store are much higher than the average business. “People always ask me if I think the higher costs are really worth it. Although I spend a lot on fresh, organic berries, which are four times the cost of conventional ones, I feel good about it because I believe this is the wave of the future. I also spend more on totally compostable utensils, cups, lids and straws. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” advises Brinkman.
The Bowl is located at 1427 Pine Ridge Rd., in Naples. For more information about the menu or the opening of the second, 1200 Central Ave., Naples location, call 239-734-3867 or visit The-Bowl.com.Edit ModuleShow Tags