Two years ago, Tricia Reddy was strolling through La Jolla, California, when she saw her first pitaya bowl. Immediately her thoughts turned to how many preservatives it must contain. After all, it was a cup of vibrant, hot pink fruit. "Then I found out it was all-natural; I couldn't believe it," she recalls.
Such bowls are the centerpiece of superfruit cafes, a West Coast phenomenon that has caught on with the momentum of the frozen yogurt and juice bar crazes. Eager to bring back a piece of California, Reddy took a nine-week crash course with small business incubator Bad Girl Ventures when she returned to Cleveland. She launched the mobile operation Coastline Bowls (facebook.com/CoastlineBowls) this June with plans to one day grow into a brick and mortar operation.
She began vending the sweet snacks at local events and was surprised to meet people who had heard of the superfruit cafe concepts and were hoping it would soon make its way to Cleveland. Of course, a bright bowl of fruit sells itself along the shores of the Golden State. But in Cleveland, Reddy knew there would be an element of educating the public.
"Sometimes people will stare at the bowls at first, but once you tell them that there's no artificial flavor, that what they're seeing is the natural beauty and color of the product, they're on board and want to try it," she says.
As a former John Carroll University basketball player, diet has always played an important role in Reddy's life. After living downtown and seeing the rising popularity of spinning studios and events like Balance and Brews, where yoga is hosted in local breweries, she knew the growing fitness and health-minded community was ready for her launch.
"If you're healthy and in shape, you're going to perform well on the court," notes Reddy.
Coastline's bowls are built with pitaya, a sweet superfruit noted for its antioxidants, iron, calcium, fiber and Vitamin A. Medleys of fruit sourced from the West Side Market, along with juices or coconut water, are blended with the pitaya to create a base. Then granola is layered on before an assortment of fruit toppings.
"The pitaya bowl's consistency is a bit thicker than a smoothie, and the granola gives it an extra crunch," she says.
Reddy plans to add bases created from acai and grain bowls as the business expands. "For acai bowls, we'll use almond butter while keeping the pitaya bowls fruitier."
Each bowl takes the name of a beach along the Pacific Coast Highway. Fruits are chosen to reflect each beach's aesthetics.
For the Huntington Beach bowl, the waterfront's colorful iconic pier takes the form of kiwi, strawberry, pineapple, banana and mango toppings. The namesake bowl of Laguna Beach, noted for green water, blue sky and sparkling white sand, is piled high with kiwi, blueberry, blackberry, bananas and coconut shreds.
Already Reddy has immersed herself in the local community through partnerships with Harness Cycle, Ride and Workout and the NEO Cycle festival. Coastline also is receiving some high-profile attention as a sponsor of local volleyball superstar Kaitlyn Leary while she's on the road for competitions.
For Reddy, it's the finish line of a two-year dream that puts Cleveland ahead of the curve.
"Cleveland is definitely making strides in offering healthy, more natural foods," says Reddy. "Especially today, everyone's conscious of what they're putting in their bodies."