Local juice bar South Block is booming, fueled by its signature acai bowls.
The smoothie, juice and acai bowl spot opened its newest location at Amazon Headquarters 2 in July, making it its 15th location in the DC area and fifth in Arlington in the past 12 years.
Founder Amir Mostafavi also says he has no intention of slowing down. Armed with the company’s first-ever funding, he aims to add 15 more stores in the Washington, D.C. area, while also exploring other parts of the United States.
“I still think there’s an opportunity in Arlington County alone, let alone [D.C. area],” he said. “But you know, we also have a desire to enter new markets.”
ARLnow interviewed Mostafabi to discuss the wave of success South Block is riding and the new course he’s charting. The key, he said, is that brands don’t grow so quickly that they lose sight of their mission to positively impact their customers, the environment and their employees.
“We will grow [South Block] We will go as fast as we can to maintain the same quality products and corporate culture. Because I’ve seen too many great brands try to grow too fast and fail. ‘ said the founder.
Mostafabi, for example, says he will continue to use fair-trade acai and will not cut corners for cheaper ingredients or labor. The surge in popularity of antioxidant-rich fruits in the United States has resulted in a flood of cheap products linked to child labor.
Mr. Mostafabi also emphasizes leadership development and guest experience due to his negative experiences in the food service industry.
“To this day, I really strive for perfection in the quality of my products, but mainly what we stand for and what our employees – our It’s about how we treat people who work for us. [and] People coming in through our door,” he said.
These are the lessons Mostafabi and his team have learned since the South Block started in Arlington, he said. Arlington continues to lead the nation as the most suitable “city.”
“Arlington customers know what they want,” Mostafabi said. “They are health conscious and they will ask questions. I think.”
Mostafabi launched South Block after five years running Campus Fresh, a popular juice bar at George Washington University. He chose his 700-square-foot space in the south block of a new building at 3019 11th Street N. as the home of his new business.
“The name ‘South Block’ kind of represents the idea of building a community on your own block,” Mostafabi said of the company’s mission.
Mostafabi said he did not open the smoothie shop with expansion plans. A couple of years later, when the line was forming out the door, he knew it was time for the South Block to grow.
As the South Block continued to add locations, Mostafabi also considered ways to give back.
In 2019, he founded Fruitful Planet, a non-profit organization that provides fresh produce to those in need. A portion of all South Block proceeds and 100% of Fruitful’s proceeds from his Planet Cafe will be donated to this effort. The non-profit organization says it has donated around £65,000 of produce.
“Our mission is to build a healthier community one block at a time,” Mostafabi said. “So what I’m thinking is, it’s everyone in our community, not just those who can afford a $10 smoothie.”