A Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) alum has returned to open a new location of her health food restaurant.
“I think anywhere would benefit from this kind of food and the environment that we provide,” Kylee Brinkman, founder of The Bowl, said. “I’ve always wanted to reconnect with the students, the faculty and the community here.”
Brinkman left Florida and moved around to Nashville and South California before she eventually made her way back to the Sunshine State.
“When I moved back, I couldn’t find açaí bowls anywhere, and I was obsessed with them from living out in California,” she said. “I basically just started making them for myself.”
She first began selling her organic açaí bowls in 2014 at Naples farmers markets and went on to open her first brick-and-mortar store in 2016. She has since opened multiple locations in Naples and now in Fort Myers.
The new location of Brinkman’s store is in University Village, and it will serve açaí & pitaya bowls as well as healthy beverages like smoothies, kava, kombucha and matcha. Brinkman said that her mission is to provide people with healthy options that are also quick and easy.
“All of our ingredients are organic and dairy-free, and we use whole fruits and unsweetened liquids,” she said. “We actually are a healthy bowl place, and we have high-quality ingredients that are super healthy for you.”
Brinkman also said that her store blends well with the other restaurants in University Village but will also stand out.
“I think the atmosphere that we create is a really chill environment,” she said. “I don’t see anywhere else that you want to come and hang out for a while.”
Sophia Bruen, a junior at FGCU, started working at one of The Bowl’s Naples locations before she transferred to become a keyholder at the University Village store. She said she likes to hang out at the shop with her friends.
“The place is just really chill and cool,” she said. “I feel like it’s a good place for students.”
Brinkman graduated from FGCU with a dual major in business management and resort & hospitality management. She links her success to her entrepreneurial mindset, a quality which she says is key for anyone who wants to run a successful business.
“I think you have to just have that mindset, and some people do, and some people don’t,” Brinkman said. “But, if you have it, you’ve got to nurture it. I think I definitely did that at FGCU.”
Chris Westley (Ph.D.) is the dean of the Lutgert College of Business, and he said that he’s happy to see an alum like Brinkman utilize the skills she learned at FGCU.
“Probably our best advertisement for what we do is the success of our graduates,” Westley said. “It says a lot about the training that they receive here, but also says a lot about the type of students that we attract.”
Brinkman’s business also reflects FGCU’s environmental ideals. FGCU calls itself a steward for the environment, and The Bowl is a plastic-free eatery.
“Every single thing we use in the shop is compostable,” Brinkman said. “Our bowls, cups, lids, straws, everything is compostable.”
The Bowl is open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., offering curbside pickup and outdoor seating. Brinkman emphasized the restaurants welcoming atmosphere.
Brinkman said, “Our motto is good vibes only, so that’s literally what we all live by.”