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By Vicky Dorvee

The Thrill of Rush Bowls comes to Gunbarrel


January 19, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Rush Bowls’ Peanut Butter and Jelly bowl features freshly ground peanuts and homemade jelly.

Boulder-born Rush Bowls is opening a new grab-and-go location in Gunbarrel. Along with the new eatery, Rush is planning to outfit a corporate test kitchen and relocate its headquarters. The three elements will share a 4,000 square-foot space at 5400 Spine Road.

Expanding administrative and executive space, refining product research and development and, having a functioning restaurant, all under one roof, will be a huge milestone for the company. Given the trajectory of growth for the company, the expansion is needed.

“It’s going to be a great store, really pretty,” founder and CEO Andrew Pudalov said. “Gunbarrel is really exploding. I live here, my kids attend schools nearby, and I am psyched to finally have Rush here too.”

Given the growth in residential real estate and the influx of active, health-conscious consumers of all ages, demographics in the area are perfectly suited for Rush Bowls’ quick boats full of sustenance.

Beginning in 2004 with one location primarily serving the college crowd on University Hill, Rush Bowls expanded by selling pre-packaged frozen wholesale versions of its products in 2010 (available in Whole Foods and through Amazon), and in 2016 began a flurry of activity to multiply its storefronts through franchising channels.

Pudalov and his wife left New York City behind to move to Colorado. The shock of being too close to the 1993 terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center and then the horror of 9/11 clinched the already persistent lure of Boulder for the couple and their growing family.

“I always felt a pull here,” Pudalov said.

Pudalov reinvented himself in Boulder. Formerly a derivative trader in Manhattan, he dove into developing a bowl business.

“I wanted to focus on super-healthy, low-caloric, diverse, on-the-go meals,” he said.

Having the texture and appeal of ice cream (but legitimately nutritious and totally meal-worthy), the artistry of creating bowls is centered on a blended fruit base. And the “frosting” is the layer of textures placed on top, including granola, nut butters and honey.

Acai Bowls are the best-known version of this trend and Rush Bowls does well selling this superfood-based version and considers it the business’s signature bowl. Other buzzwords making Rush Bowls unique include: using only natural ingredients, 100 percent fruit juice, no added sugars, and covering every dietary requirement.

“There are no up-charges for those with special issues such as gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free.” Pudalov said.

Rush Bowls is walking the talk regarding its high-quality standards. To make one of the bowls in the “comfort” category of the menu, peanuts are ground in front of customers, and the company has its own homemade jelly.

By 2015 Rush Bowls was an established brand and Pudalov had been slung the franchise idea many times.

“I knew how to build a company, but I didn’t know franchising” Pudalov said. “I needed a partner who was an expert.”

Meeting Buddy Brown, one of the country’s largest franchise owners, through mutual friends ignited a partnership that is focused on blowing up the bowl business. Brown owns over 300 franchises nationwide, primarily Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s restaurants.

Company-owned restaurant expansion will mostly be within Colorado, but franchisees are rapidly bringing Rush Bowls to other states.

“I’m not even sure how many and exactly where right now,” Pudalov said when asked where Rush Bowls’ contracts are presently underway. “Right now, there’s Nashville, Berkeley, St. Louis, Portland, Charlotte….and eventually internationally.”

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo Rush Bowls’ Denver location. A similar new location is coming to Gunbarrel.

With the help of the burgeoning health food movement and the format of each operation (a relatively small footprint and simple equipment), Brown’s proficiency and background has certainly put a fire under these chilled bowls.

The popularity of bowls and competition doesn’t intimidate Pudalov.

“We were first to market and more people doing bowls just shows how healthy they are,” he said. “It’s good for us. We have a very loyal customer base.”

Each location serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Operations open early in the day so customers can grab breakfast on their commute to work. Prices range from $6.50 for a smoothie to $7.95 for bowls.

The name Rush Bowls was unquestionably prophetic. At this point, around 40 stores are in the works. If all goes according to plan, March will herald the opening of the newest Colorado store in Gunbarrel.


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