CEDAR FALLS – A new business is shaking things up, adding a healthy choice on the College Hill scene.
Brandon Marks, a Plainfield native, opened The Shakery Smoothie Bar on May 1, just as nearby University of Northern Iowa was letting out for the summer.
“It was a big week. Everybody was in here. We had a line with 50 people at once,” Marks said.
Located at 2125 College Ave., in the lot rebuilt following the 2016 Great Wall Chinese Restaurant fire, The Shakery offers selections of protein smoothies, yogurt bowls, fruit smoothies and cereal shakes.
“It’s like a snack, like a treat, but it’s healthy for you. It’s a healthier alternative to ice cream,” Marks said. “We don’t use any syrups or added sugars in any of our products.”
There also are vegan and gluten-free options.
This is the 21-year-old’s first venture into the entrepreneurial world, although he got a taste of business and management as a personal trainer. He graduated from Nashua-Plainfield and played football at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls before an injury sidelined him. From there he resumed his studies at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo.
The concept for The Shakery came from Marks’ love of fitness and nutrition.
“I was always into fitness, and then I decided I wanted to get going right away. So I did this. I saw a gap that needed to be filled,” Marks said.
He researched the subject, found some mentors and put together a business plan. Funding came from his personal savings and investors. Marks said he didn’t want to take out a business loan to bankroll the startup.
Marks, his brother and his father built the counters and set up the rest of the shop’s interior, and the décor was left to his girlfriend, Sophie Grow, who also works at the business.
“I really wanted a place where you don’t have to feel like you have to be an athlete to come in here. Just because we have protein smoothies, you don’t have to be a weightlifter,” he said.
Just before opening, he gathered his friends and ran a taste test of the menu.
He came up with most of the recipes himself.
“From years and years of making protein smoothies and different kinds of fruit smoothies, it kind of just came together,” Marks said.
The Shakery currently employs three people, and Marks plans to hire three more part-time workers soon.
Marks said he is exploring the possibility of bringing a Shakery to Waverly.