Can New Store Redefine Cereal?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Category: News > City > Business
The inflatable Tony the Tiger and dairy-cow spots that have slowly begun to dot the interior of a Telegraph Avenue storefront that has been vacant for over a year are likely to entice the curiosity of even those who skip breakfast.
Indeed, these uncommon adornments and the "cereal + milk = anytime" sign advertise exactly what they suggest-a "cereal bistro," called Moo...licious, that seeks to introduce a new dimension to the conventional cereal bar that will open its doors by mid-April.
"(The concept) came to me in a dream," said co-owner Charles Heinz. "I did some research and found out there were cereal bars in other places, but all they do is cereal as a breakfast item. We're trying to change that mentality, to introduce cereal as a mainstream food item for lunch, dinner-anytime."
The grab-and-go cereal bar will allow customers to mix-and-match a selection of about 46 different cereals from brands including Kellogg, General Mills, Post and Quaker Oats, with 36 toppings ranging from fruit to candy.
"It's a good idea, and it's something new," said Edan Qian, a Piedmont High School senior who wandered into the store. "It's different and that is what Berkeley is, so it adds to the Berkeley scene."
While there are several cereal bars in the nation, mainly on the East Coast, Heinz said Moo...licious is the first to take cereal beyond the bowl.
Its alternate menu will feature cereal sandwiches with fruits instead of tomatoes and Nutella, marshmallow or yogurt spread in place of mayonnaise and other condiments. Salads will have cereal as a substitute for croutons.
"The concept is so basic-it's just cereal, but we put a different twist to it," Heinz said. "We give students a healthy alternative because our prices are comparable to Blondie's and Fat Slice."
A 32 ounce bowl with two types of cereal and one topping will cost roughly $3.50, and sandwiches and salads will be comparably priced, Heinz said.
Owners spent more than a year remodeling the space, which used to house a tanning salon that closed due to poor patronage, according to Sandy Hryciuk, property manager for Asset Property Management, the lessor of the space.
"I think they're going to struggle to make it because of their high overhead, but I'm going to be out here rooting for them," said Russell Six, a street vendor on Telegraph for more than 20 years.
But neighboring businesses believe Moo...licious's innovative nature may help it overcome the hurdle of high rent.
"The students are very excited," said John Shaghasi, co-owner of Royalty Couture, a store next door. "They just want the place to open up, so I think it's going to do very well here."
City officials said they welcomed Moo...licious because it will serve an unexplored niche rather than compete with existing eateries.
"I think it's worth a try," said Roland Peterson, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District. "It's certainly not going to hurt, so I have no objections to it."
Once the flagship Berkeley store is underway, owners will work expand to Los Angeles and Seattle, said Bennie Smith, co-owner of Moo...licious.
"As we expand, we would like to stay focused on college campuses and those types of communities," Smith said.
The store, set to open around April 15, will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the hours may extend during finals week.
"I thought about it and there's really no place you can go during work to get cereal with fruit," said Moo...licious partner Gerald Thomas. "Everyone said it was the greatest thing."
Jessica Kwong covers local business.Contact her at [email protected]
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