A trip to Hawaii inspired an Inkom woman to bring back some of the color and taste of the tropical islands to Southeast Idaho, and Brio Bowls by Keiko was born.
Keiko Dye’s açaí bowls are full of fruit and superfoods and are packed with flavor, making them both healthy and delicious. They’re also incredibly vibrant.
“I intentionally ordered clear containers for the bowls because you can see the different layers, and I think that draws people to them,” Dye said. “I love seeing the different layers of what’s going on. It’s like a heaven-sent party in your mouth.”
The Brio Bowls food truck has been open since Aug. 12 when it made its premiere at the Chubbuck Farmers Market. Since then, business has been going well.
“People are excited. It’s been really fun to bring something to this area,” Dye said.
The idea for the açaí bowl business started niggling in the back of her mind after she traveled to Hawaii with her husband, Robb, several years ago.
“Açaí bowls are one of our favorite foods so when we traveled over to Hawaii a couple times, they had them there and we loved them,” Dye said. “I also had them in Boise before, and so I thought, ‘You know what? We don’t have anything like this.’”
Then this past January, Dye took a trip back to the islands with some girlfriends. She floated the idea to them and, as supportive girlfriends tend to do, they backed her up and they spent several days formulating a business plan.
“While we were there, we were paying attention to the different places where we’d get açaí bowls,” Dye said. “We were doing our homework, and they were helping me out and taking pictures and getting ideas and sampling different kinds — what we liked and didn’t like. We compiled all the different ideas and put it together.”
Once back home in Inkom, Dye and her husband started work getting the business off the ground. Originally they thought they’d just set up a table at the local farmers market. Robb suggested they get a trailer to haul their supplies around.
“Then we stumbled across this trailer that a guy had built out for camping, and when we looked at it (Robb said), ‘This might be a great little food truck,’” Dye said.
The process of setting up her food truck was more work than Dye originally anticipated — for instance, figuring out where to put five sinks, as required by health regulations.
“Thank goodness, they make sinks small enough and as long as they were deep enough and the right size, the health department was great about it,” she said. “They were like, ‘You can find different sizes and as long as you have them set up in this order, it should work,’ and wouldn’t you know, they fit in there just right. It was meant to be.”
She said she almost bailed on the idea all together when the COVID-19 outbreak hit.
“I was like, ‘No, I’m too chicken. We’re not doing this.’ It didn’t make sense to do something like this when it felt like everything around us was just falling apart,” she said. “And then I just kept getting the thought, ‘No, you should do this. It’s OK. You got this.’ So we decided to go forward with it.”
Finally, Dye’s dream came together.
“We wanted to get it just right before we started, so that’s why we got a bit of a late start in the summer,” she said. “But I’m glad we took our time because everything is going really smoothly.”
Dye said she’s surprised by how many people in the area haven’t eaten an açaí bowl before, but she’s enjoyed introducing people to something new.
“My favorite part is building them because they’re really fun to make and then I love handing them to people who have never had them before because their eyes just light up because (the bowls are) really pretty and they’re not what you’d expect,” she said. “It’s different than anything else we have (in the area).”
To the açaí newcomers, Dye explains her bowls like this: “Basically you just make a thick smoothie and they all have different flavors based on what fruits are in the smoothie. Then you top it with granola. It’s not a lot of granola; we try to get the right balance. Then you do fresh fruit on top of that. And then you can throw in superfoods. So for example, hemp seed or goji berries or chia seeds. Those particular superfoods provide protein. … Then we top it with coconut where you get your omegas because it’s just a natural coconut. It’s not sweet. And then we do a drizzle of honey. It’s just different layers of different healthy foods all in one bowl.”
Brio Bowls currently has three menu items, all of which are customizable.
The Brio Bowl is made up of açaí berries — a purple berry from trees in South America — blended with strawberries, blueberries, bananas and almond milk and topped with organic granola, bananas, shredded coconut and wildflower honey.
The PB & C bowl contains açaí berries blended with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, natural peanut butter and chocolate almond milk and topped with organic granola, strawberries, bananas, cacao nibs and wildflower honey.
The Flower Power bowl is made up of blue spirulina — a type of blue-green algae — and bananas, pineapple and almond milk. It’s topped with granola, blueberries, kiwis, strawberries, bee pollen and wildflower honey.
Dye says all of the offerings are gluten free and dairy free, and they can easily be made vegan as well by excluding the bee pollen and honey. The bowls also contain only natural sugar.
“They’re very filling. It’s a meal; it’s not just a treat,” she said. “… You feel satisfied, like, ‘Good. I didn’t waste my money. I know I just put good stuff in my body.’ And then it’s just so unique and kind of fun because it’s pretty and healthy and different.”
So far, the Brio Bowl has been the most popular option.
“I think people are playing it a little more safe and that’s the cheaper one at $7.50 because they’re not sure. They’re like, ‘What the heck is this?’ And then they come back and they either get it again or they’ll add strawberries to it or they’ll add a berry to it or they’ll experiment with a new one. But it seems like the Brio Bowl has been the most popular and then Flower Power is right there with it. People love that blue. They just want to eat something blue. It’s just so pretty.”
Dye and her husband still have full-time jobs — she’s a dental hygienist and Robb is a clinical social worker — but they’re out in the community several times per week. Robb and their daughter — Kobae, who is a junior in high school — are very involved in the business venture while their son, Brennen, is on a mission for their church.
They are planning on being at the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market in Pocatello through the end of the season in October. The Chubbuck Farmers Market will have its last event of the year on Wednesday, and Brio Bowls will be there as well.
Brio Bowls will be at Soda Barn in Chubbuck on Thursday mornings through lunchtime, and Dye said she’s trying to work with the Sinclair gas station on East Center Street near Portneuf Medical Center so they can set up shop there on Tuesday mornings.
They plan on being open for the season at their usual locations through the end of October and maybe through the first couple weeks of November if the weather is nice. Then they’ll reopen in the spring.
So what’s up with the name brio?
“I came across the word ‘brio’ and it meant energy and life and vitality,” Dye said. “It just had a good meaning and that’s exactly what these bowls provide: energy, life, vitality.”
For more information about the business, visit Brio Bowls by Keiko on Facebook and @brio.bowls on Instagram.