Eat Fast and Smart: New Local Restaurant Serves Healthy Options

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By Meredith Sheldon

Fast food typically means a juicy burger or greasy fries. But a new restaurant in Gainesville is changing the stereotype.

Vale Food Co., located on Archer Road next to Bento and Chipotle, offers fresh, healthy protein and grain bowls, acai bowls, superfood smoothies and even avocado toast. Owner Sunny Ilyas said the restaurant offers quick foods high in quality and nutritional value. “Imagine if Whole Foods and Chipotle had a baby,” he said. “That is what we are.”

At Vale Food Co. you can build your own bowl, but instead of carb-loaded rice or beans, you can mix whole-grain mac and cheese, veggie quinoa and even coconut curry cauliflower with some fresh vegetables and proteins.

From Sriracha chicken meatballs to grilled shrimp, Vale Food Co. offers a range of flavorful proteins to keep your body full and fueled. Bowl ingredients change on a regular basis to provide options for all people seeking balanced meals. “We have such a diverse menu, and that is what keeps people coming back,” Ilyas said. “It may be in a fast, casual setting, but the quality of the product you are getting is superior to anything in the market.”

Although not yet in practice at the Gainesville location, the restaurant also plans to offer meal plans. Healthy meals will be hand-delivered to your door Monday through Friday with prices ranging on how many meals per day you desire. One meal delivered every day for five days will be about $59 per week. The plan will offer prepared dishes for every need, whether you are super active, trying to lose weight or just want to maintain your weight.

Vale is already pursuing the meal plan option at its Tallahassee location, but the Gainesville location is still figuring out logistics. “We don’t want to roll out something too soon and over promise and under deliver,” he said. “If we promise something, it is going to be great.”

The prices for the bowls range from $6.95 for a small bowl and $8.95 for a regular sized bowl. Ilyas said the restaurant offers a “for-the-people discount,” where customers get a 10 percent off discount every time they check in to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“Price is king especially in a college market. People are going to go where the value is,” he said. “If our customers are going to help us grow by spreading the word, we have no problem in helping them save 10 percent off to help serve us.”