By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Feb 09, 2022 at 11:02 AM

When Bowls opened its doors in 2017 at 207 W. Freshwater Way in Walker’s Point, their explicit goal was to offer diners a convenient, fast casual dining experience which also provided nutrient-rich meals that catered to a variety of dietary needs.

But, like so many other restaurants, they found themselves facing a brand new world in the months following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’d been so reliant on business lunches and catering that our business really fell off as people began working from home.” says Andy Larson, who operates Bowls alongside partner Kelly Krieski. “And it got to the point where we began asking the question: ‘Can we continue to operate this business?”

In the end, Larson says, the answer was yes, and no. 

Due to challenges related to both staffing and demand, they took a long hard look at their business model and made the decision to shift gears, launching a prepared meal service offering an internationally-inspired menu of restaurant quality smoothie- grain- and greens-based bowls for weekly pick-up and delivery.

Teriyaki chicken bowl
Teriyaki chicken bowl

Easy, healthful meals delivered

Bowls to Go is one of the newest prepared meal programs in Milwaukee. And it’s among just a few which cater to vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and soy-free diners. Even better, all ingredients for bowls are naturally gluten-free, so there’s no risk of contamination for diners avoiding gluten.

“We really took the time to go through our menu and determine which of our offerings could be frozen and reheated,” says Krieski, noting that they were able to transition the majority of their bowls into a freezable format. “Ultimately, we wanted our quality to remain high and we didn’t want to sacrifice flavor.”

After investing in the equipment needed to seal their bowls for freezer storage and building out a website that offered a convenient, efficient ordering platform for customers to place weekly orders for meal pick-up or delivery, the partners were able to move forward with the Bowls To Go conept.

“It’s definitely been a tough transition,” says Larson, “But overall, we’re able to offer people a more convenient way to eat better without having to take the time to do a lot of cooking.”

Throughout the brand's evolution, Bowls has maintained its commitment to ethically sourced ingredients including fresh vegetables, grass-fed steak, Amish chicken, wild-caught salmon, and pasture-raised eggs from Three Brothers Farm in Oconomowoc. They’ve also stuck to their guns, eschewing inflammatory oils in favor of avocado and extra virgin olive oil and substituting out processed sweeteners for more natural alternatives including coconut sugar, stevia and local honey.

The two entrepreneurs have also added value to their menu offerings by partnering with Whole30 to create a dedicated menu of bowls that adhere to the guidelines of the popular whole foods-based eating plan.

Bowls has also added a number of new offerings, including a rice and potato gnocch bowl with basil pesto, mozzarella, oven-roasted tomatoes and peas and a vegan shepherd’s pie. Additional bowls, including Mongolian beef, chicken biryani and jerk chicken are also in the works.

All told, diners have a choice of over 20 different bowls – from berry acai smoothie bowls and rice-based Fiesta bowls to Greek quiche and Mediterranean chicken bowls – a wide variety of which are available to pre-order for either pick up or delivery on a weekly basis.

Pesto gnocchi with chicken
Pesto gnocchi with chicken

How Bowls To Go works

Bowls to Go operates on a fairly simple premise: Orders for either fresh or frozen bowls can be ordered online by 3 p.m. on Friday for pick-up in Walker's Point or delivery (within 10 miles of the shop) the following Tuesday.

Bowls can be ordered on an a la carte basis for $10-$15 each or as part of a convenient weekly subscription program (from as few as five bowls per week up to three meals per day or a total of 21 bowls per week). In every case, customers have control over both how many and which specific bowls they receive each week.

Each bowl comes with reheating instructions, making it an easy solution for at-home or work-based breakfasts or lunches, as well as an efficient way to bring efficiency to meal preparation for busy individuals and families.

For a limited time, new customers can also try out the Bowls to Go subscription program for 50% off their first week. Just click to get started.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.