The inspiration for Bowled Life! Cafe came from something slightly exotic that David Wheeler ate for the first time in Ocean City, Md.
It was an acai bowl, and he discovered he liked the new food.
“That got my wheels turning,” Wheeler said of acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee), made from a South American palm nut and considered by some a superfood.
In January 2018, David and his wife, Bettina Wheeler, launched a new business with the Bowled Life! food truck. Ten months later, they opened Bowled Life! Cafe at 929 10th St. E., in Palmetto’s Colonial shopping center off U.S. 301.
The meal-in-a-bowl starts with acai as its base, and goes from there. Top of the menu is Berry Patch, where an acai, banana, blueberry and almond milk base is topped with rawnola (a raw version of granola), strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, coconut, hemp hearts and honey drizzle.
The Islander has an acai, banana, pineapple, mango and coconut milk base, topped with rawnola, banana, pineapple, kiwi, coconut, chia seeds and yogurt/honey drizzle.
Other acai bowl selections include Moca Fixx, Power Up, The Dragon and The Sweetheart, with a shifting array of bases and toppings.
Small bowls start at $6.25; large bowls at $10.25. Bowls can also be customized to customer tastes.
“Our bowls are made so artistically that people tell us that they look too good to eat — but they do,” David Wheeler said.
“We are the healthy side,” he said. “We are vegan friendly, but we have a little something for everyone. We add no sugar and we fry nothing.”
Also on Bowled Life! Cafe’s menu are a number of smoothie selections, salad bowls (quinoa and keto), toast and soup.
Avocado toast was added to the menu by popular demand and has become one of the restaurant’s best sellers. Seasoned avocado is heaped onto a slice of multi-grain bread and topped with diced tomatoes and parsley.
But, depending on customer taste, that could be just the beginning with a variety of other toppings available.
“We can top it with everything from feta cheese to bacon,” Wheeler said.
First-time guests often order a smoothie before trying a bowl, Bettina Wheeler said.
“Once they see other people eating a bowl and saying how good they are, they move away from smoothies and try a bowl,” she said.
Candi Buchanan stopped by Bowled Life early one morning and ordered a bowl.
“It’s healthy, it’s fast and it’s delicious,” Buchanan said.
In addition to the cafe, the Wheelers still operate their food truck.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, it serves food from the parking lot at Bank OZK, 2102 59th St. W.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, the truck serves downtown Bradenton next to Tellers coffee garden at 1201 Sixth Ave. W.
The food truck operates at special events and other locations the remainder of the week.
Looking forward, the Wheelers would like to add a second food truck and perhaps a restaurant on Anna Maria Island. They are also making plans to add a way for customers to order online. Coming soon is delivery through DoorDash.
“The thing I like most is the interaction with the people. As long as we are having fun, we’ll keep doing this,” David Wheeler said.
Bowled Life! Cafe is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and is closed Sunday.