Embody Fitness Gourmet brings health-minded food to Forest Street
Published 12:00 am, Thursday, October 13, 2016
NEW CANAAN — On a recent Friday afternoon at Embody Fitness Gourmet on Forest Street, just a few weeks after the health-food purveyor’s soft opening, the soft hum of chatter in the cafe area was broken only by the whirring of the blender as employees clad in black t-shirts worked busily behind the counter.
It was an encouraging sight for owner Gillen Bryan, a Stamford native who created Embody in Darien, expanded to Westport and opened his third location, in New Canaan, on Sept. 22.
“The response has been great. It’s been beyond our expectations as far as getting out of the gate quickly,” Bryan said, seated in the cafe during a break in the action.
According to it website, the mission of Embody is to “Uncomplicate the mission of eating well.” The extensive menu offers healthy protein shakes, breakfast bowls, salads, ceviches, soups, juices, coffee and even meal plans to guide customers through detoxing juice cleanses.
Bryan said he got seriously into fitness while in college, but spent five middling years in financial services after graduating.
“To be frank, I struggled being in the corporate world. I didn’t understand why until years later when I realized that my entrepreneurial spirit was clashing with my ability to thrive in a corporate culture,” Bryan said.
By the time he was 29 he had saved up some money, drew down his 401k and decided finally that he was finished with finance. In Janurary 2008 he opened his juice bar in Darien’s Equinox fitness club. Early customers responded positively, to the point that two members of the gym decided to invest in the company, enabling Bryan to open a second shop in Westport in 2011.
Though he grew up over the border in North Stamford and attended Trinity Catholic High School, Bryan said he spent time in New Canaan.
“I have a lot of connections to New Canaan so it’s kind of cool to be back,” Bryan said.
Some of the early success, Bryan believes, has to do with the stores location on Forest Street, on the lower level of the recently built mixed-use Heritage Square development. His is the development’s first of two storefronts to open.
“When you think of the quintessential Fairfield County, or New England, street, Forest Street is your spot. It’s a vibrant area. I feel like I’m dreaming a little bit that I was able to be a part of this new development that has turned out to be a great addition to the street and the town,” Bryan said.
Now off to a hot start in his new home, Bryan is looking to further expand the Embody franchise.
“We want to stay to our Fairfield County roots. This is what we know. I’d love a Stamford location. We have an interest in doing a second location in Westport on the Post Road. And we’ve been talking to the SoNo Collection about a potential space there as well,” he said, before returning to the afternoon rush.