Laisha Carradero knew she had found something special the first time she tried açai berries.
Laisha is originally from Puerto Rico, and her children visit family there in the summer. While she was down there two summers ago, her brother said, hey, come try some açai out.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, what is açai?'” Laisha remembered.
He told her it was ice cream with fruit, coconut, and a lot of good stuff inside. “You’re gonna love it,” he assured her.
“Oh my gosh. It was so good,” Laisha said about the berries described as
She immediately wanted to tell her wife, Isabel Graciano, that she had to try it too. The pair had been considering business ideas for about a year when Laisha was introduced to these uniquely delicious berries from South America.
Once Isabel and the couple’s five kids had the chance to try some and give their approval, the family began making plans to bring them to Dubois County.
“I don’t see anything like this here in Jasper,” Isabel explained.
“I really felt like we had to do this,” Laisha added.
About three months ago, they reached out to the manager of the Southgate Shopping Complex in Jasper and found a great location near the Big Lots.
The two women and their five kids — four boys and one girl — all worked together to redecorate and prepare the shop, Acai X Press, to serve up varieties of açai bowls, pancakes, waffles, crepes, as well as coffee, shakes and more for the public.
While the menu features several prepared bowls, customers can also select their own toppings to go along with the pure açai berries or açai soft serve ice cream. Toppings include fresh fruit, peanut butter, coconut, Nutella, granola and more to build your own masterpiece around the nutritious berries.
The couple is starting with a basic menu of options that includes items like chicken sandwiches, avocado toast, some specialty pastries and other non-açai berry items, with plans to expand to more items like salads in the future.
Isabel, the cook in the family, is looking forward to bringing more selections to the menu as they grow the business. For now, though, they admitted they are nervous about the new endeavor and are taking small steps to bring something new to the area.
The couple, who met through a mutual friend while living in New England, moved to Jasper about five years ago for the opportunities offered here as well as the great schools and safety compared to where they were living in the northeast.
“If I leave my house unlocked on accident, I don’t worry,” Isabel explained. “You can’t do that in New England.”
Tomorrow marks the culmination of the family’s efforts as they open doors to the public for the first time at 5:30 a.m. The early hours are important for the pair who want to be able to provide coffee and breakfast items for people heading to work early in the morning.
Hours will be 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 pm. on Sundays. You can follow them on Facebook here. Açai XPress is located at 221 South U.S. 231 in Jasper two doors down from the Big Lots in the Southgate Shopping Center.