What do you get when you put together two gym owners, a barbecue food truck chef, and a 280-square-foot former coffee shop? A takeout operation serving up trendy bowls–with a health-food twist.
Pocai (pronounced Po-SA-ee) is a collaboration between Ricewood barbecue cofounder and chef Frank Fejeran and local Orangetheory Fitness owners Bret Borock and Matt Grabowski.
The small outer corner of the building at Woodlawn and Packard, formerly Coffee Works A2, has been painted a fresh berry blue, and simple slatted chairs and tables line the nearby sidewalk. Words like “salmon” and “kale salad” painted on the wall gives passersby a preview of the menu inside.
The name combines the two trends at the center of the restaurant’s menu. Poke bowls, Ann Arbor’s trend of the moment, are a Hawaiian dish of rice, sauce, vegetables, and raw fish. Acai bowls are a smoothie-like Brazilian concoction with a base of pureed frozen acai berries topped with granola and other fruit. Pocai serves both “bowls” in clear plastic drink cups, with ingredients added one by one to create colorful layers. (Don’t worry, the cups are compostable.) Also available are salads, avocado toast, (“you can’t open a place without avocado toast!” says Fejeran), and “ABC toast” with acai, banana, peanut butter, and chia seeds.
Since the tiny space barely has room for two two-person tables, the main focus is takeout. Orders are accepted by phone or online, and Fejeran, Grabowski, and Borock hope to add curbside pickup soon. “You’re gonna be able to just [text] your name and car make … and we’re gonna bring it out to you,” says Borock.
The partnership started fortuitously, when the gym owners and chef began patronizing each other’s businesses.
Fejeran says Grabowski is a regular at Ricewood, and “after I went to Nashville to do hot chicken research [for Ma-Lou’s in Ypsi], I felt really fat, so I joined a gym. The day after my first session, Matt comes up and is like, ‘Hey I heard you were gonna join this gym Orangetheory,’ and I was like ‘Yeah, how’d you know that? It was literally yesterday.’ And he was like, ‘I own it!'”
“We love food,” says Borock. “When Matt and I started the whole Orangetheory thing, we thought ‘Oh, it would be super cool to start a restaurant.'”
After making the connection, they asked Fejeran to help develop a healthy menu based on the acai bowls that Borock had seen on a trip to California. “I think we just all clicked,” Fejeran says. “Then this space came up.”
“We want to be a destination where people really enjoy going,” says Borock. “It’s a healthy option. You can feel good about what you’re eating and feel good about where you’re going.”
Pocai, 1232 Packard. (734) 780-7359. Open daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m. a2pocai.com