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Renovations underway for new Franklin Street Purple Bowl location

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The Purple Bowl sits on Franklin Street on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

Renovations are underway at The Purple Bowl’s future location at 505 W. Franklin St.

The Purple Bowl CEO Paula Gilland said it has been exciting to be able to intentionally carve out a new space now that she and her son Taylor — the business’s co-owners — have a better idea of what they want for The Purple Bowl.

“The first space we started in was a hot dog place, and we had to kind of make it into a vegan acai place,” Gilland said. “And this place we're going to open is with all the things that are important to us: the community building, the third-space feelings that we have.”

The Purple Bowl, a restaurant specializing in acai bowls, opened its current location at 306B W. Franklin St. in 2017. The business has been at the center of a debate over the future of the lot on Franklin Street since the landowner Longfellow Real Estate Partners announced plans to demolish the building and construct a nine-story property with labs and office space.

Gilland said she found out in November 2022 that The Purple Bowl would potentially have to move, but that the business fought the relocation until the summer of 2023.

“It was just such a grind,” she said. “We were running this place and trying to work with the Town to assess where they were at, because Longfellow’s plans all hinged on the Town giving them permission to rezone this area.”

The Purple Bowl signed a lease with a new landlord at 505 W. Franklin St. in the fall of 2023, after it became clear they would have no choice but to move, Gilland said.

Gilland said she has concerns that the new location, which is two blocks further west, will be a less convenient walk for students, especially with two new acai bowl and smoothie restaurants opening closer to campus.

“We were really discouraged,” she said. “We felt like we had built a beautiful space here for our community.”

UNC first-year Isabelle Werling said she comes to The Purple Bowl for the quality ingredients and the friendly atmosphere. Since her room on campus is already a 30-minute walk from The Purple Bowl’s current location, she said the additional two blocks will not make as much of a difference.

Taylor Gilland said he thinks the new space will be even better. The new location will have 14 customer parking spots dedicated to The Purple Bowl, he said, as well as an outdoor shuffleboard court. He said the new patio space will be about five times the size of the current one, at 2,000 square feet.

He said the business will try to incorporate a small stage for live music and plans to expand its menu.

“We feel like our customers want to be in fun spaces,” Paula Gilland said. “And that's what we're going to try to build for them.”

Gilland said she is excited to be moving into an old building, and said the new space will have more natural sunlight. The Purple Bowl also plans to incorporate a walk-up coffee window, and she said the business plans to expand its running group — which meets Wednesdays for a run followed by free coffee — at the new location.

"We're seven years in operation now," Paula Gilland said. "So we kind of know what our community is looking for."

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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