MN Cup is featuring select 2016 applicants who entered our social media contest. We asked each participating entrepreneur about their business and the inspiration behind their idea. Stay tuned for the announcement of those who advance onto the semifinalist round of the competition on June 6th. See the full MN Cup schedule here.
1. Tell us about your company - who you are, what you do.
Quarks American Bento is a healthy fast casual restaurant located in downtown St. Cloud, MN. We provide great tasting nutritious food that is prepared fresh and fast. We’ve Americanized the concept of bento (Japanese boxed lunch) by combing all the essential elements needed for a nutritious meal into one bowl. Our tagline - “Fill your Bowl, Fill your Soul” – reflects our belief that nutrition impacts every aspect of living and well-being. Our customizable bento bowl options offer guests the opportunity to partner with us in creating a colorful, flavorful meal that impacts body, mind, and soul.
2. What inspired your idea or startup?
Bento is a Japanese concept that co-owner Adam experienced on the west coast in the 90’s. For years he dreamed of Americanizing it (making it more suited to life-on-the-go) and bringing it to the Midwest. It wasn’t until 2014 when we both lost our jobs that we found the courage to take the leap and develop the concept into what it is today. The name Quarks derives from the word “Quark” - which are fundamental constituents of matter. Scientists have named the “flavors” of quarks as: Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange and Charm. The flavor punch that our sauces create provoked a search for “flavor” and resulted in turning the six circles of our menu into the names of these quarks. Since we believe that the basic elements of nutrition: healthy grains, lean proteins, and fresh veggies are essential to life, naming the restaurant “Quarks American Bento” was a natural choice.
3. What excites you most about MN Cup?
The most exciting aspects of the MN Cup are the exposure and networking that we get the opportunity to be a part of. As a small independent company we have a significant dream of becoming a nationwide company. We recognize that growing and aspiring to our dreams will require additional investors, business mentors, and a larger company to scale it to the desired proportions. MN Cup provides us with exposure to potential partners, development opportunities, narrative-crafting experiences, and more tools to help us influence the dining out culture of the Midwest.
Learn more about Quarks American Bento at http://www.quarksamericanbento.com/