Oakberry Acai Bowls is a survivor. The Brazilian business opened one year ago at 819 State Street Ste. B. during the middle of the pandemic, and amidst construction at Paseo Nuevo mall, and have thrived. The business offers smoothies and bowls, the latter being the most popular.
“When the pandemic arrived we were working to open the store,” says owner Ana Luisa Amaral. “Then I wondered: should we open or wait? But I didn’t know how long the pandemic would last so we worked to open as soon as we could and decided to believe it will work. We kept working during April and May then in June 2020 we opened. I think locals really want to help small businesses and we had a lot of people who came every week, asked how business is going, and brought someone new with them. We have a lot of customers from Santa Barbara who are great and I think we survived because of them. Santa Barbara is a very special place.”
Starting in May 2021, as it got warmer, business really began to pickup and now sales are the best they have ever been. Oakberry was fortunate that their type of product was to-go and all seating was outdoors. When restaurants all around them had to close because of the pandemic, Oakberry did not.
Customers come from all over. I am told that 30% of customers are from Santa Barbara, and 70% are tourists from out of the area. “Oakberry even has fans of the brand that drive all the way to Santa Barbara for us,” said Ana Alice Amaral. “Even from as far away as San Diego. And people are also impressed that we are super fast. Sometimes while people are placing their order, someone is making it, and when we are done taking the order the bowl is ready.”
In addition to the popular smoothies and bowls Oakberry is adding a variety of coffees to their menu called “O-coffee” and a new breakfast option with oatmeal called “Oakmeal.” They hope to start the new services by August. Oakberry Acai Bowls is literally open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Christmas and New Years Day.
A FAMILY AFFAIR: Top photo left to right: Ana Alice Amaral, JuJu Amaral, Ana Luisa Amaral, Beto Amaral. Photos by The Restaurant Guy