A healthy food option has sprung up in an unlikely place: the food court of the Columbia Mall.
Froot and Erb, which is run by the husband and wife duo of Satoshi and Chalyse Koshikawa, opened last month in an environment that’s typically reserved for soft pretzels and cinnamon buns. Instead, they’re offering fresh juices and shakes—the Greenway shake is made with kale and bananas—alongside salads and entrees such as Japanese curry and raw pesto pizza.
The owners see the mall location as a way to get their name out and reach people who wouldn’t otherwise seek a restaurant like theirs.
“It’s nice to be able to meet people and talk to them about what we do and our purpose,” Satoshi said.
Froot and Erb is dairy-free, Satoshi said, and most of its offerings are gluten-free. They use honey instead of white sugar, although those who don’t want honey can switch it for agave. All the menu items are vegan, Chalyse said, although she acknowledged there is some debate about whether honey is considered vegan.
“We try to be really clear about what we’re using in our stuff,” Chalyse said. “Most of our stuff is whole fruit, vegetables and nuts.”
They’re also hoping to reach beyond the crowd that typically seeks out healthy or vegetarian foods. Chalyse said her dad is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but he enjoyed the shake he got at Froot and Erb.
“That’s my goal, is for people who eat like him to like something from us, because he was surprised, too,” Chalyse said.
The spread of businesses such as Natural Grocers, which opened a Grand Forks store late last month, indicates consumers are paying closer attention to what they’re eating. The National Restaurant Association says more than 7 in 10 adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.
Chalyse has been a vegetarian for about a decade, she said, and has weaved in and out of going on vegan or raw food diets. Originally from Grand Forks, she moved to California and met Satoshi while working at a vegan restaurant.
They came back in 2010 and kept the idea of opening their own restaurant in the back of their minds.
Eventually, the couple wants to have a sit-down restaurant space with more menu options. They’re also looking at selling their products at local grocery stores, Satoshi said.
Satoshi said he focuses on having a balanced diet, which they’re trying to spread to others through Froot and Erb.
“You don’t have to eat here every day, but it’d be nice to have something new, something refreshing,” he said.