Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The Drish family of Fairfield has opened a new business on the east side of Fairfield’s square.
Big Acai Bowls — Fairfield opened its doors to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 5 in the building previously occupied by Davis & Palmer Real Estate. The business’s name is a reference to the acai berry found in the Amazon in South America and one of the fruits the business sells in its sorbet bowls and smoothies.
All sorbet bowls are topped with granola, banana, and a variety of toppings of the customers’ choice. Some topping options include a variety of fresh fruits, almonds, hemp seeds, coconut, goji berries, peanut butter, cacao nibs, chia seeds and others.
Danae Drish, daughter of Diana and Ron Drish and a 2019 graduate of Fairfield High School, is the manager and part-owner of the cafe along with her family. Danae said she was first exposed to acai berries while playing beach volleyball in California, where they are commonly sold. She had them again during a trip to Colorado, and most recently in Pella, where a Big Acai franchise opened just last year.
On the bottom of the Big Acai bowls reads the line “For franchise opportunities, call …” followed by the business’s number. Danae said her father, who co-owns Drish Construction, has always wanted to start another business. He’s been prodding the rest of the family to start a Big Acai franchise in Fairfield for the past year since he likes the company’s product so much, too.
The Drish family decided to follow Ron’s lead and contacted the company to see how to bring Big Acai to their town. Lanette Byers, who awards franchises with her son Jake, said she was thrilled when Danae reached out about opening a store.
“Fairfield has been a target of ours,” Byers said. “Our strategy is to be in the smaller towns and not just the big cities.”
Big Acai has 12 locations in Iowa in cities such as Pella, Marshalltown, Ankeny, Ames and Spencer.
After purchasing the building from Davis & Palmer Real Estate, the Drishes worked feverishly to remodel the interior to turn it into a cafe. They removed three walls, put in a new floor and built a counter. Ron did all the construction, which saved the family money from not having to hire a general contractor.
“We all spent our evenings here, working late into the night on top of our other jobs,” said Danae.
Just 42 days after purchasing the building, the remodeling was complete. Byers said she was impressed at how quickly the family worked to open the business. She’s also been impressed by Danae’s willingness to take on such a big responsibility at such a young age.
“Her wisdom and tenacity are beyond her years,” Byers said.
Fairfield Economic Development Association assisted in obtaining the franchise, creating the business plan and purchase of the building.
Josh Laraby, Fairfield Economic Development Association’s executive director, said, “It’s been an honor to serve the family in the startup. They’re working diligently to bring this to fruition. The new location will be a vibrant asset to our downtown that will be a draw to our community. Make sure to stop in and experience an acai bowl.”
The Drishes hired artist Amy Putney-Koenig from Des Moines to paint murals on the walls — colorful fruit with smiling faces. Putney-Koenig attended Fairfield’s Kiwanis Kids Day on Sept. 18, and based her murals on the feeling she got from the town during her visit.
On the wall behind the county, a mural instructs visitors how to pronounce the name of the store: “ah-sigh-ee.” In the native Portuguese, the name of the berry is written as “açaí.”
Danae said the acai berry is a “superfood” with great nutritional value. She said the menu is completely vegan except for honey, and that all the bases of the bowls and smoothies are organic certified fruits.
Danae said she hopes the business can be open seven days a week. She is the store’s full-time manager while also attending online classes through Indian Hills Community College. Her two younger brothers work at the cafe when they can. Dalton, who is in high school, works in the afternoons while Drake, in college, works weekends. Her mother works during her lunchbreak, and her grandparents help in the back washing dishes.
Big Acai Bowls — Fairfield is truly a family affair.