Bowlz of goodness at new coastal spot
Friends Sam Learmonth and Tash Chamberlain had often mused about opening a business together and what that venture might be.
Fast forward to today and that dream of working together on something special has come to fruition with the opening of their Torquay cafe, Bowlz.
The response to the newest cafe on the block has been overwhelmingly positive as customers embrace the delicious menu of acai bowls, salads, housemade treats such as banana cake, smoothies, juices, hot drinks and weekly specials.
Stepping inside the inviting space on Gilbert Street it is hard to believe it hasn’t always been there.
It has the feeling of a cosy living room – a home away from home – and that is exactly what its clever owners intended, saying their business is all about family, friends, the community and yummy wholesome food.
“We always talked about going into business. Tash has got yoga and meditation in her background and I was a personal trainer,” says Sam, who also worked in human resources.
“We were like, ‘what should we do?’, we were both living down this way and we were looking around for something different,” Tash adds.
In January last year Tash made a snap decision to set up a food van selling acai bowls on a vacant block at the other end of Gilbert Street.
It proved incredibly popular and a year later she pitched the idea of Sam joining her in expanding on the idea in a permanent cafe.
“I called her and said ‘want to open a shop with me?’ and she said ‘yep, let’s do it!’,” Tash says.
After after a long search for the right location, the entrepreneurial pair opened Bowlz on October 24.
“There are a lot of things we want to do and this is just the start,” says Sam, explaining that they had hoped to open in April.
“What was meant to be opening in winter has opened just short of school holidays and summer.
“But we’ve watched our Insta page go from a few hundred to way over a thousand as soon as we opened which is great and we’re really happy that the community is loving it.”
Sam and Tash had a shared vision for the interior of Bowlz and their partners, tradies Adrian and Ben, were instrumental in helping them to bring it to life.
Comfortable chairs and a welcoming tan leather sofa, rendered walls, and polished concrete floors softened by patterned rugs and cushions all contribute to the warm ambience of the eatery.
Plants hang from the ceiling and coastal fine art prints by award-winning local photographer Tal Lemmens are the perfect complement to the interiors.
The smell of freshly brewed Dimmatina organic coffee is the perfect finishing touch.
The menu offers up a range of tempting fare including the North Shore classic acai bowl, the Pink Ocean smoothie bowl, and a range of salads such as the homemade Cajun chicken Buddha bowl to name just a few.
Sustainability and supporting local businesses is a top priority for the duo, with their supplier list including Dusty Bulk Foods, Moorish Preserves and Spices, Surf Coast Quality Meats, Bellarine Fresh, and Inglenook Dairy among others.
Sam, also known as the “salad queen”, says there are plans to expand to catering for corporate offices and online orders of large take-home salads for busy people.
Soups accompanied by locally made bread will be a staple during the winter months.
Sustainability is also a priority at Bowlz and among the initiatives is the use of coconut bowls, bamboo cups and a five per cent “eco discount” for customers who bring in their own bowl, cup or take-away container.
Sam and Tash already have plans to expand the Bowlz footprint with possible locations including the Bellarine, Mornington Peninsula and Armstrong Creek.
“But we’ll try to get through the summer months here first and see how we go,” she says, smiling.
Bowlz Torquay is located at 24 Gilbert Street. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 4pm. To discover more head to the Bowlz Torquay website or follow on Instagram @bowlz.torquay.