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Inkom woman brings a taste of the tropics to eastern Idaho

Small Business Spotlight

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IDAHO FALLS — The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns and restrictions had a negative impact on the lives of many. But amid all the chaos and confusion, there were some people that ended up prospering during that time.

Inkom native Keiko Dye was one of those people. She started selling Brio Bowls, a smoothie-like treat inspired by the acai bowl from Hawaii. It’s served with a smoothie base and topped off with granola, fresh fruit and other nutrient-dense superfoods, like bee pollen and goji berries.

They opened at the Idaho Falls Farmer’s Market in August 2020. She started serving customers inside The Cookie Place in Pocatello earlier this year and started doing the same thing at the 17th Street location in Idaho Falls about six weeks ago.

“The farmer’s market was so busy. We didn’t advertise at all and we sold out every time. I don’t think people are even aware we are here in Idaho Falls,” Dye tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s a really new thing for their (customer’s) palette, for their eyes. They sell themselves. The minute people see them, they want to buy it.”

Keiko and her husband, Rob, both work in the healthcare industry. She’s a dental hygienist and he works at the Portneuf Cancer Center. Starting a business wasn’t necessarily something they needed or wanted to do, but when Keiko first tried an acai bowl, she was hooked.

“I love these bowls and you couldn’t find them anywhere,” Keiko says. “I was in Boise with my family and we were eating one, and I said, ‘I wish we had these in Pocatello.’ My dad said, ‘Why don’t you start your own place?’ I said, ‘That’s crazy.'”

A short time later, she took a trip to Hawaii with her friends and her dad’s idea had stuck with her. While ordering an acai bowl at a shop in Hawaii, she brought up the idea of bringing the treat to eastern Idaho and they decided to try one from as many different shops as they could for research.

After returning home, COVID-19 hit about a week later and shut everything down. But that didn’t stop Keiko. She told her husband about the idea and the two of them decided to go for it.

“We found a little 5-foot by 10-foot trailer that was built for camping and we looked at it and thought, This thing is insulated and has a countertop. We could finish this and make it into a little food truck,” Keiko recalls.

They worked on it all summer and had it ready to go by August when they started at the farmer’s market.

“We did that from August until November and then on our closing day in November … it was like 75-degrees outside and we had a nonstop line for like two hours. We were just cranking them out,” she says. “People kept asking if we had a storefront, (which we hadn’t even thought about at that point).”

A few days later, Rob drove past The Cookie Place in Pocatello and thought it might be a good place to serve their bowls. The owners agreed to let them try it for a few months and they moved their supplies into the store in January. By March, the owners wanted them to open in Idaho Falls.

The Dyes offer six different flavors with a rotating menu of seasonal flavors. Each flavor contains no added sugars. One of the most popular is the PB&C, a peanut butter and chocolate-based Brio bowl. See how it’s made in the video player above.

Keiko is happy to be sharing her version of a treat she loves with customers and she’s trying to get the word out so others can give them a try.

“I’ve got a flag out front and we’re getting a new sign made for the top. We’re on Instagram. We’re up to about 500 followers. That’s our main marketing right now,” she says. “I just want people to know who we are, come try them and love them.”

Brio Bowls by Keiko is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, with a 4 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday inside The Cookie Place. It has similar hours at The Cookie Place in Pocatello.

brio bowl
A bowl from Brio Bowls by Keiko in Idaho Falls. | Instagram

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