When Kevin Brennan bought his first vinyl at the age of 7, he dreamed of a future that would somehow revolve around rock 'n' roll. Brennan's entrepreneurial spirit led him on a quest for the next "big thing" as an adult, and he dabbled in various ventures before having an epiphany while traveling in 1989. He was in San Diego, and he visited his first coffeehouse.
Kevin fell in love with the simple coffeehouse concept and had a feeling that gourmet coffee shops would soon become a craze across the nation. He instantly knew that he had found his calling, but it wasn't until he sipped coffee while watching an Asia concert that he knew what would set his establishment apart from the rest: rock 'n' roll.
Today, his trio of shops showcases the marriage of a laid-back coffee-shop vibe with rock music and memorabilia, creating a caffeinated love child in a Led Zeppelin onesie. Each location also features rock-inspired drinks, such as the Van Halen and the Dark Side of the Moo, joined by sandwiches and salads prepared fresh daily.
Though it only recently opened its doors, Blue Sky Cafe has already carved out a niche as a neighborhood hangout. The laid-back eatery doesn't rely on juice mixes and canned veggies?instead, it creates juices brimming with carrots, apples, oranges, and beets, and dresses its wraps and sandwiches with vegetables fresh from the ground or plucked directly from lettuce trees. The cafe uses freshly baked bread, brews coffee on site, and even caters to events, including meetings and graduations.
Red Mango's frozen yogurt has been garnering national attention for more than five years, unlike that musician strumming away next to the foosball table in his basement. The shop earned a place atop Zagat's 2011 lists for Best Smoothie and Frozen Yogurt Chain and Best Healthy Options Among Quick Refreshment Chains. Red Mango showcases its award-winning reputation by dishing up all-natural and gluten-free yogurts—all of which are either low-fat or nonfat—that promote healthy digestive and immune systems with natural probiotics. Friendly staff members are always on hand to whip Ghirardelli dark chocolate, POM pomegranate juice, and seasonal pumpkin spice frozen yogurts into Stevia-sweetened smoothies or parfaits layered with organic granola and fruit. The toppings bar brims with crunchy cereal, cheesecake bits, and nuts, allowing creative customization.
Christopher and Melanie Romano?s kids have long loved the music, iPads loaded with games, and fun flavors of Let?s Yo! When they?d frequent their neighborhood outpost, they felt assured they were feeding their kids a healthier alternative to ice cream. "Even in the winter, my kids wanted to go," Christopher says. "They would have gone every day if I'd have let them."
When the couple decided they wanted to quit the corporate world and open a business, Let?s Yo! seemed like a natural fit. They soon opened up shop, where customers self-serve 18 all-natural, organic flavors brimming with live active cultures. The flavors rotate regularly, with varieties such as sea-salt-caramel pretzel, red velvet cupcake, and California tart. Next, guests pile on premium toppings such as Andes mints, mixed nuts, and Kashi cereal?as well as about 10 different types of syrups, including Reese's peanut-butter topping and mango syrup. The staff members get fresh-fruit deliveries daily, which they chop up or splice via laser vision.
Along with iPads loaded with the latest apps, Christopher outfitted the shop with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi. He chats regularly with the customers who swing by for a cup or stop in after the gym for a yogurt protein shake. And he says it's definitely a change of pace from his Wall Street job. "The hardest choice you have to make is what topping you want," he says.
There's no one way to follow a healthy diet. So at Healthy & Delicious, chefs don't dictate what comes in their health-conscious wraps, salads, and breakfast dishes. Instead, they offer build-your-own options that can be customized according to their customers' tastes. They keep a daily roster of fresh vegetables, cuts of meat, and dressings on hand with which to create the ideal dish for every customer or a winning lineup for Veggie Bowl IV. They don't just put fresh produce into wraps and salads, however. They also extract their nourishing juices to create fresh-squeezed drinks and smoothies with a choice of healthy add-ons.
Deb Williams and Chuck Secallus bonded right from the start over their shared passion for healthy living; they met at an Ashtanga yoga class, and they soon dreamed up the plans for Asana House Juice Bar, which combines their love of yoga with their love of raw food nutrition. Through this endeavor, they share their passions with the community by teaching Ashtanga yoga classes and mixing fresh vegetables and fruits into nutrient-rich juices and smoothies. Asana House recently split its establishment to allow the yoga and juice-bar aspects of the business to grow with more space for equipment and experimentation. At the café's new location, liquid gold pools on the ceiling, illuminating the beauty of the decor and the meals Chuck intricately constructs. He draws from diverse ingredients, including a patch of wheatgrass growing behind the counter and a cache of fresh beets, coconuts, and avocados. In addition to liquid fare, Chuck constantly experiments with new lunch combinations, adding kale and sautéed spinach to quesadillas and topping raw-vegetable soups with mint to make meals that are both visually and internally pleasing. Patrons can nibble or sip their meals at one of the small tables or at the bar while listening to upbeat music or watching yoga gurus demonstrate poses in lieu of Simon’s commands on a nearby TV. An attached boutique sells yoga mats and accessories, along with Garden of Life and E3 Live vitamins, both of which Chuck and Deb include in their regular diets.