Amir and Cindy Alavi launched Health Nut Cafe in 2007, just months after Cindy received a life-altering diagnosis. A truncated bike ride, cut short because Cindy felt ill, led to hospital visits and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Amir had been a vegetarian since 1995, but the diagnosis pushed the couple toward what he called a “health nut lifestyle.”
“That’s where the original name came from,” Alavi said. “We focused on fresh ingredients, healthier options—all choices that would help Cindy’s body fight the disease.”
Cindy’s health is much better now, 14 years later, and the company she and Amir founded is moving into 2022 with major changes, including a new name and rebrand. The Alavis have already opened nine locations around the metro, but the goal is to open locations outside the state as well, and so the newly named Bee Healthy Cafe is offering franchise opportunities to expand operations. They are focused on Texas right now, but CEO Cody Pepper said they are making the expansion available in 28 states, plus the District of Columbia.
The first franchise agreement has already been signed for the metro, and it’s with former store manager Kharissa Edmond.
“They want franchisees who want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy—and that’s me,” Edmond said. “This is the perfect opportunity to own and operate my own business while enjoying every bit of it. As a franchisee, I get to invest in my future, contribute to the health of my customers, and bring my family along for the ride. I believe deeply in the corporate mission, and I am beyond excited for this next chapter.”
Edmond is now the owner of the Bee Healthy franchises at the OU Health Sciences Center, research park and the State Capitol. “Kharissa embodies our corporate values of humanity, humility, and hunger, and we are thrilled to have her as our first franchise partner,” said Pepper.
“We hope to have five franchises in the first twelve months,” Alavi said. “When we were thinking about expansion, we all agreed that owner-operators tend to be more committed to the stores than corporate managers; they just run things differently because they’re incentivized as owners.”
The name change does not come with any major menu changes. Alavi said the last change was more a structural change to the menu: choosing the “inside” theme (black bean burger, salmon, Baja, etc.) and then the vehicle (bowl, wrap, sandwich, etc.). The sides tend to be healthier than other fast casual concepts, including hemp heart queso, hummus, curry stew, and veggies and ranch.
“Our menu doesn’t require friers or hood vents—some of the big-ticket items that are cost prohibitive for new owners,” Alavi said. “We can do a buildout for a fraction of the cost that a normal restaurant would expect to invest.”
Bee Healthy also has full coffee service, a large selection of smoothies, and “health boosts” like whey protein, matcha, and collagen. Hours vary from store to store, so check the website at beehealthycafe.com for up-to-date information.