Husband and wife Doug and Caitlin Amundson want to give folks a healthier, fruitier alternative to fast food and frozen treats by opening the first Chicago-area Nautical Bowls shop in Naperville.
A grand opening celebration with prize drawings kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at 8 W. Gartner Road in the Naperville Plaza Shopping Center. The first 50 people in line when doors open at 11 a.m. will receive a free bowl.
Nautical’s fast-casual, acai bowl concept was started in Minnesota by Doug Amundson’s brother, Bryant, the maritime theme coming from the family’s love of being on the lake.
“We love tubing and skiing, and the big thing that we do is surfing behind the boat,” Doug Amundson said.
Naperville will be the company’s 27th location, with about 50 more following in the next two or three months, he said. Six of those will be in the suburban Chicago area — Algonquin, Batavia, South Elgin, Wheaton, Bloomingdale and Schaumburg.
Bowls start with a plant-based sorbet from acai, cacao, pitaya (dragon fruit), mango, coconut, blue spirulina, chia pudding, blood orange and ube.
Customers can top the sorbet with other superfoods, such as honey, granola, goji berries, cacao nibs, peanut butter cacao crumbles, almonds, coconut butter crumbles, coconut flakes, banana, strawberries, blueberries, and hemp, pumpkin and chia seeds.
All bowls are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and contain zero refined sugars.
The biggest seller, Amundson said, is the Nauti Bowl featuring acai, pitaya, granola, banana, cacao nibs and peanut butter.
Bowls can be a meal replacement, a healthy before- or after-work snack, or a guilt-free treat instead of ice cream, cheesecake or a cookie.
Naperville was an obvious choice to locate a franchise, Amundson said. His wife was born and raised in the city, graduating from Naperville North High School and he moved here in 2014.
Although they recently moved to Yorkville, “Obviously we love the area. We love that we’re close to downtown,” he said.
The couple has been shopping their new business around the community and on social media in advance of their opening.
“So far we’ve been having a lot of really great reviews … They can’t wait for us to open. They can’t wait to try us out,” Amundson said.
Nautical Bowls in Naperville is opening with a staff of 15: 12 high school students, two college students and Amundson as general manager.
Hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through the winter, and could expand in the spring once the weather improves and the days get longer, he said.
The plan is to remain flexible and meet the desires of the customers, he said.
Nautical Bowls has partnered with fitness facilities around the city and merchants in the shopping plaza to offer prizes to customers visiting Saturday. Drawings will start at 10:30 a.m., a half-hour before the store opens at 11 a.m.
Customers also can enter to win free bowls for a year when they visit the Naperville shop Saturday and speak to a crew member after downloading the store’s app.