Spring semester’s coolest eatery, Grain and Berry in Hillsboro Village offers a variety of healthy and nutritious meals for the busy student, parent or health-conscious consumer. No longer do we have to pack up for Florida, the franchise’s first location outside of the Sunshine State set up shop this January and has been whipping up tasty brunch options including superfood bowls, smoothies, toasts, flatbreads and coffee.
The chain originally began to provide healthy options for those with restricted diets due to illness, but with the rapid rise of health and fitness-inspired dietary restrictions, Grain and Berry quickly expanded their menu to cater to a wide range of eaters. Whether it’s nut allergies or adherence to Keto or Whole30 rules, Grain and Berry makes sure a satiating dish doesn’t compromise dietary needs and maintains separate preparation spaces internally to avoid cross-contamination.
Manager Nicole Brant emphasized that ensuring these meals are nutritious and satisfying means including fresh and well-sourced ingredients, which are a priority for every franchise location.
“We try to use the freshest, best ingredients,” Brant said. “Our açai comes directly from Brazil. It’s grade-A, it’s actually the berry and it’s picked twice a year when it’s ripe, then frozen.”
Brant said her location choice was motivated by her daughter, a nurse at Vanderbilt Medical Center, who had noticed the lack of healthy food options for those working early morning shifts in the area. As a result, Grain and Berry opens at 6:30 a.m. each morning to serve that early-waking crowd, and it closes around 9:00 p.m. to cater to late-night students.
The locations’ focus on community involvement does not end there. Brant discussed multiple upcoming plans for further involvement with other local small businesses and philanthropic events. These may include open mic nights, sampler fitness classes, reservations for meetings or club events, boutique pop-ups and even fundraiser nights, as well as opportunities for younger children to have a safe community space through fun, family activities like painting classes.
Although the location has experienced some setbacks in maximizing operations due to COVID-19, their continued involvement with the local community has not been deterred. Since opening in January, Brant and staff have already given back 20 percent of profits to Tennessee Alliance for Kids, an organization focused on resources for foster children, and they’ve organized donations to Vanderbilt Medical Center for medical staff as well. Although they are not currently on the Commodore Card, they also have a loyalty program where every dollar spent can be turned into points for free food on future orders.
I tried the Meat Your Heart Out flatbread and Grain and Berry Açai bowl, and cannot recommend them enough. The flatbread surprised me as a fully vegetarian option that was as flavorful as any meat based pie, with a crunchy, light cauliflower crust. The açai bowl was piled high with toppings and fruit, leaving us feeling refreshed and satisfied. The serving style was designed more for presentation than functionality, but a little spilled granola never hurt anyone. Making the experience even better, the space was warm and welcoming, a perfect place to snack as you finish up that late-night term paper.
Hillsboro boasts a number of study-and-lunch combo spaces including Anzie Blue, Fido and the new Greenery Co., just to name a few. But let’s be honest, none of them are worth the one-hour wait during the noon lunch rush. Grain and Berry provides a welcome (and healthy) reprieve from this madness and offers a quiet setting to get your work done—just make sure to stop by before the word spreads.