Bowled Over: Bowl Chains Win Over Restaurant Goers

May 7, 2024

fruit bowl

Juice It Up!, a restaurant chain focused on healthier-for-you offerings like super fruit bowls, has enjoyed a systemwide sales surge of 38% over the past five years. One major reason why: consumers simply can’t get enough of “bowl” menu items.

“It’s a different way to be able to get what they need to be able to fuel their day,” Juice It Up! President and CEO Susan Taylor told The Food Institute.

“Over the past 20 years – especially in the last four or five years – I think people are more cognizant of what they’re putting in their bodies. Restaurants have become more able to adapt to provide more choice, allowing people to have what’s important to them, whether it’s protein or a vegan option.”

Plus, she noted, consumers love the fact bowl menu items are customizable.

So while Juice It Up! appears poised to grow beyond 100 locations this year, similar chains are also enjoying success. According to, CAVA, which offers Mediterranean bowls, saw visits increase 18.4% year-over-year in January and 40.1% in December. Meanwhile, Chipotle continues to enjoy success with a menu featuring Mexican-style bowl items, and salad chains like Sweetgreen have gained momentum.

In 2023, Brandwatch declared bowls “the reigning champion of food trends.”

“Bowls are a fun choose-your-own-adventure with endless combinations,” Troy Guard, the owner and executive chef with TAG Restaurant Group, told FI. “They’re easy, convenient, travel well, can often be reheated or saved for later, and contain fresh and healthy ingredients.”

No matter where consumers look, restaurant-goers seeking salads, acai, Mexican, Poke, protein, fruits, or grains can often find them in bowl form.

The bowl craze “is all about convenience and the fusion of flavors,” said Louis Cantu, a former chef and current sales partner with USA Restaurant Suppliers. “In today’s fast-paced world, people are looking for meals that are not only quick and easy but also wholesome and satisfying; bowls hit that sweet spot.”

“Plus,” he added, “there’s something inherently comforting about cradling a bowl in your hands, whether you’re on the go or unwinding at home.”

Bowls offer big benefits to restaurants, too. Bowl items create menu versatility, lend themselves to streamlined production processes, and tend to reduce food waste, executives note.

“The benefits of bowls for restaurants is utilizing premium produce ingredients, such as lettuce,” said Cindy Syracuse, CMO at BurgerFi. “We use whole head lettuce for our lettuce buns, and whole leaf for our burgers, so there was a substantial amount of lettuce that was being wasted. Since we don’t use shredded lettuce, by creating salad bowls it allowed us to use the existing SKU.”

Bowl concepts can also incorporate automation easier than most restaurant chains, Cantu noted.

However, he added: “In the end, the beauty of bowl dishes lies in their simplicity and the endless possibilities they offer for mixing and matching ingredients to cater to any taste or dietary need.”