Passion for smoothie bowls leads to new business

Sometimes habits lead you in new directions in life.

That’s what happened to the Tompkins family. Kaye Tompkins, her daughters Maggie and Katie and her parents Kirby and Kathy Harrell fell in love with acai and fruit smoothie bowls and found themselves driving from their homes in Bessemer and Hoover to City Bowls in Vestavia Hills to three times a week.

Finally, Kaye and her husband, Brad, decided to open their own City Bowls franchise at Stadium Trace Village in Hoover in June of last year.

But when the Tompkins wanted to change and expand their menu, including offering smoothies, City Bowls wouldn’t allow it, Brad said. So they decided to part ways with City Bowls and in October launched a competing business called FAB Fruit at the same location in Stadium Trace Village.

The concept is similar, but the menu is different, Kaye said. The Tompkins have hired a chef to help them develop their own menu, she said.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the bowls start with an acai, pitaya or spinach base, followed by a layer of granola, then different types of fruit and toppings ranging from peanut butter to honey. , cinnamon sugar, cocoa nibs. , coconut flakes and chia seeds.

Some people start out thinking it’s a dessert or a snack, but it’s so much more than that, Kaye said. Because of everything in it, many customers use the bowls as a light meal, she said. Customers can even add protein powder to the mix.

“It’s a great addition to a workout,” Kaye said.

It’s also a healthy alternative that doesn’t necessarily taste like a healthy alternative, she said. People who order bowls with spinach don’t really taste spinach, she says. Most of the bowls are sweet, but some of them taste salty.

Their most popular bowl is the Purple Power, which has a base of acai, vanilla protein, peanut butter, banana, strawberry and almond milk, and toppings that include blackberry, strawberry , Nutella, peanut butter and granola.

The most popular smoothie is called “Bad Habits”, which includes pineapple, strawberry, banana, and white grape juice.

While the menu spells out the ingredients for each bowl and smoothie, people are free to customize their orders or create their own order from scratch.

The Tompkins wanted to add smoothies to the menu because customers kept asking for them.

Brad, a former home builder who runs a factory automation business in Birmingham, mainly handles the big decisions, and Kaye, who has a background in TV advertising sales and English, handles management daily, a bit like a restaurant. director.

Their 18-year-old daughter, Maggie, acts as assistant manager, including managing employee schedules, and their 15-year-old daughter, Katie, is a permanent replacement employee, helping out whenever needed. Apart from the family, there are 15 other employees.

The girls are homeschooled, so if necessary they can work in the business at times when most students their age are in school. The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week during the winter and may adjust hours during the summer, Maggie said.

Maggie is getting ready to go to college, so she won’t be here soon, “but I’ll be back to eat,” she said.

The Tompkins knew they wanted the business in Hoover because much of their life’s business is centered in Hoover, they said. They looked at several potential locations and really liked Stadium Trace Village as they expect a lot of traffic with the planned entertainment district, the planned hotel and all the new homes being built on Stadium Trace Parkway.

None of the Tompkins family has experience in the restaurant business, but they believe strongly in their menu offerings and are always up for adventure, Kaye said.

Business has been good except on rainy and cold days, she said. They have lots of repeat customers and have enjoyed getting to know new people, she said.

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