“Nourish bowls” are having a moment. Beginning with acai bowls and rapidly mutating to include many varieties of nutrient-rich veggies, healthy fats and quality proteins, they’re increasingly ubiquitous in the wellness dining space. Advocates reckon they provide a nutritious alternative to on-the-go meals and typically look as great as they taste.
So, it should hardly be surprising another bowl-based business is on the cards. Long before St Rose, No. 19 and Pinkie, serial hospitality duo Dominic and Diana Caruso had a plan. That plan was Bowls Baby, a takeaway bowl cafe.
“It’s always been in the pipeline,” Diana tells Broadsheet.
The Bowls Baby concept is to deliver nourishing, quick and flavoursome food. “People are time-poor these days, and our body and mind suffer as a result,” Diana says. “Bowls Baby is somewhere to come every day, whether you are on the go or not.”
The new cafe will emerge in the couple’s home neighbourhood of Essendon, only doors down from their first baby, (after Espresso 3121 – now closed) St Rose. “[It’s close to] a train station, we know our community quite well there,” says Diana. “So we think the reception will be quite good.”
On the menu, expect green and milk smoothies, salads and breakfast bowls including the ever-popular acai, as well as bircher muesli. A number of citrus-based salads, beef-filled bowls, a Mediterranean roasted-vegetable bowl and the increasingly popular poke are also in the works. “It will be just a small menu … because we just want to concentrate on really tasty bowls, but whatever you order we’ll hopefully knock it out of the park,” Diana says.
Bowls Baby will begin as a pop-up, but not the kind that operates for a month and then disappears. “When I say pop-up, everything will still be quite concrete,” Diana explains. "We can adapt and change with what needs to happen.” The designation “pop-up” is more a reminder the Essendon establishment is something of an experiment to see if the concept’s got legs, rather than that it's a temporary fixture.
While the builders are yet to break ground on the first store, the Carusos already have plans for Bowls Baby to become a multi-store chain.
Unlike their previous cafes, Domenic and Diana are designing the fit-out of Bowls Baby themselves. “Our branding is quite fun, you’ll still be able to tell who the owners are but this one definitely has a bit more colour,” Diana says, laughing. “At the moment its pink – it’s quite pink.”
A driving force behind the Carusos’ decision to open a fifth cafe is in the interest of long-term staff. “We grow so they can grow as well,” says Diana. “When they start to step up, then we’ve got something for them to strive towards. If they show us the skills and the initiative … and they want to grow as well, then we try to give them the opportunity.”
Previously a florist, renovations on the site will begin in a couple of weeks. And Bowls Baby is expected to bloom in time for spring.