Although food choices at movie theaters have been undergoing a renaissance lately — Bow Tie Cinemas, the family-owned chain based in Ridgefield, having recently upgraded its theaters in Norwalk and Trumbull to feature artisanal pizza, eggplant parmesan fries, and the like — healthy food has still been something of a rarity.
But Bethel-based Boost Bowls is aiming to change that. The purveyor of bowls filled with acai, pitaya, quinoa, bee pollen and of course plenty of fresh fruit has swung a deal with the recently opened independent movie theater Riverview Cinemas in nearby Southbury to sell its wares to moviegoers, as an alternative to the standard popcorn/soda/candy combos.
Even more unusual is the fact that the new Boost Bowls is actually in the theater’s lobby.
“We’d been looking for a second location for a while,” said Tatiana Mehmeti, who with her husband Valdrin opened the 800-square-foot Bethel location about three years ago. Although the pair also ran indoor cycling studio Boost Cycle in Newtown, “We thought Newtown was a little too close to Bethel when it came to a second Boost Bowl.”
Presented with a 4,000-square-foot space in the Riverview complex at 690 Main St. South, the Mehmetis instead started talking with cinema owner Robert LaFlamme about setting up inside the theater itself. Boost Bowls now occupies roughly 400 square feet in the lobby, with a kitchen and concession-stand-style counter; she said business had been especially brisk over its opening weekend, April 6-8.
The road to Southbury began in the mid-2000s. Although the Mehmetis both attended Danbury High School, they only began dating after graduation, Tatiana said. After spending a couple of years in the Los Angeles area, “We got homesick and came back to Connecticut,” she said.
Having embraced the southern California lifestyle, “where there’s a juice bar on every corner,” they were dismayed to find a comparative lack of same here. Thus was Boostjuice — now being rebranded Boost Bowls, partly to avoid confusion with Australian juice and smoothie brand Boost Juice — born.
In addition to juices, smoothies, protein shakes and the like, Boost Bowls also sells salads and vegetarian sandwiches and wraps — as well as of course the titular bowls. The “build your own” option has proven to be particularly popular: after a base of acai, pitaya, avocado or yogurt is chosen, patrons can add fruit, super foods (including hemp seeds, goji berries and cacao nibs) and/or a drizzle (including honey, almond butter and agave) to create their personal preference.
“I love seeing high school and college students coming in and putting together their own bowl, or at least getting one of our juices,” Mehmeti said. “It shows that they’re becoming more interested in getting healthy, instead of just getting an ice cream sundae after school.”
The couple recently sold the Newtown cycling studio in favor of focusing on Boost Bowls — and Mehmeti said they’re planning to add more. “We get suggestions practically every day,” she laughed. “I’d like to go into southern Fairfield County a little more, maybe the Stamford or Darien area.”
And the Mehmetis are expanding on a personal level too: Mehmeti said they “have a little boy, and another one on the way. It’s going to be a pretty exciting year!”