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If you're looking for a $16 smoothie, you know where to find it.
Vancouver, there’s an açai invasion coming to our fair city. The Brazilian brand Oakberry—currently in over 30 countries and known for its açai-based smoothies and bowls—is about to hit B.C. in a major way with not one, not two but five (!) stores. Touting itself as a healthy, all-natural snack or meal, the smoothie and bowl franchise wants to get in on that lucrative West Coast health and wellness action.
It’s Carter Friesen, master franchisee for Western Canada, who is to thank for suddenly making us all think of açai again. After spotting the brand while in Australia, Friesen saw an opportunity (think: cartoonish dollar sign eyes) and decided to bring back more than just a fridge magnet and a bad Aussie accent back from his trip.
So what is açai? (Pronounced “ah-sigh-ee”, you’re welcome!) It’s a berry that grows on the Euterpe palm in the Amazon rainforest… but if you’re a millennial like me you might know it as the uber-popular “superfood” from the early 2000s that every mother—including my own—was taking as a supplement. The “super” in superfood seems more to do with how expensive it is than the health benefits themselves, and this new Oakberry smoothie bar is no exception. The prices for the smoothies range from $9.99 to $15.99, and $11.49 to a whopping $17.99 for the bowls. That’s a lot of shekel for a shake. I’m still trying to afford eggs again!
The saving grace here is that you get unlimited toppings on the bowls, so my advice to you is: get a groceries-worth of fresh fruits, granola, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and any other sprinkle option that you wish you could buy in the bulk Whole Foods section. Listen, I’m not saying bring Tupperware. But I’m not not saying that.
According to a press release, the first Oakberry is slated to open its doors late spring in Kitsilano at 3139 West Broadway. It would be their second Western Canadian location, following a store opening in Calgary planned for mid-May. The rest of Vancouver’s stores will be opening shortly after that, with locations in Gastown and Cambie Village, a kiosk at The Post building downtown on West Georgia Street for all you downtown drink-my-meal-because-I’m-too-busy business folks, and a signature store in the West End opening in the summer.
Oakberry is also planning to open five more stores in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba for a full-fledged açai invasion across Western Canada. So warn your loved ones of what’s to come (especially your moms) and don’t be alarmed if these smoothie thirst traps start popping up on your IG feed soon. We’ve survived trends before (remember Dippin’ Dots? Me neither)—this too shall pass. Or maybe not—the avocado takeover proves there are exceptions.