A berry and cream smoothie and breakfast bowl at NutriSport & Smoothie in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
Push Pop, Berries and Cream and Tropical Greens smoothies at NutriSport & Smoothie in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
Co-founder and lifelong friends Brent Stepanek (right) and Craig Coder (left) pose for a portrait at NutriSport & Smoothie in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette )
CEDAR RAPIDS – A new health-focused cafe finds common ground among vastly different target audiences in a post-pandemic world.
As traditional restaurants and food-focused businesses grapple with inflation, overhead and unprecedented supply chain disruptions, the owners of NutriSport & Smoothie believe their new venture is a concept proven for a post-pandemic world.
With low overhead, the fast-casual concept offers a wide variety of smoothies, wraps, and breakfast bowls that serve two crowds: professionals during lunchtime and gym goers coming in from their workout. With multiple gyms downtown and some downtown employees returning to the office for work, the time was right for Cedar Rapids owners Craig Coder and Brent Stepanek to open up the concept.
What: NutriSport & Smoothie
Where: 223 Second St SE, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Call: (319) 200-5558
Details: Find a variety of fruit and protein smoothies, wraps and breakfast bowls with a full list of optional extras to add to your drinks. Open for dine-in, take-out and DoorDash delivery.
“Yeah, it’s a bad time (for restaurants) because of COVID and everything, but on the other side there’s been kind of a shift in the way people look at nutrition,” said declared Coder. “The food industry is struggling, but not the nutrition industry, due to COVID-related health concerns.”
With more health issues, the use of supplements and healthy eating habits is on the rise, making a traditionally risky business venture a little less uncertain. NutriSport & Smoothie opened on July 5 downtown in the former location of Ruby’s Pizzeria, next to Cobble Hill – two years later than planned.
The space has been vacant since Ruby’s closed in 2018.
With a variety of fruit and protein smoothies, the menu shows that you don’t have to sacrifice taste for healthy eating. Push Pop and Peanut Butter Blaster smoothies taste as crisp as their names sound. Even green smoothies made with kale have a fruity palate, which makes for a more balanced compromise.
For a nominal price, customers can get any of 18 supplements from A to W – amino energy to whey protein – including everything from muscle recovery to collagen, fiber, glutamine and support liver. Director Peyton Brokovich is on hand as a supplement expert to help navigate your options for your next boost.
The Baja Guacamole Wrap remains one of their most popular, and the breakfast bowls provide fresh meats and vegetables in flavorful proportions that deliver all the protein with less fat.
The target audience is an unusual mix, but one that makes sense. With a lack of healthy and convenient options, people looking for a quick bite or sip have few options downtown.
Some customers take their orders to take out, and many opt for the tables available inside. The few other healthy options out there are often prepackaged, Coder said.
“You usually have to go to the grocery store and do it yourself,” Stepanek added. “But here you can get in and out quickly.”
The new downtown franchise—the third NutriSport & Smoothie location in Cedar Rapids and Marion—is the first food-focused business owned by either partner. Stepanek has an HD Elite gym downtown.
Over the next three years, the business partners plan to open three to five additional stores.
Friends since childhood, the men now in their early 40s have worked together before. Coder, now managing director of Spahn & Rose Lumber Company, previously recruited Stepanek to work at Kinsler Construction and developed it together.
Both owners also have combat military service history. Coder enlisted in 2005, served in Iraq, and remains active in the Iowa National Guard. Stepanek was active from 2002 to 2008 and served in Afghanistan.
Comments: (319) 398-8340; [email protected]